US advises airport checks on electronic devices

The extra security checks apply to "certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States"
The extra security checks apply to “certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States”

The US government is asking overseas airports to step up checks on passengers’ electronic devices.

The Transport Security Administration (TSA), which forms part of the US Department of Homeland Security, said it has issued a directive to “certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States”, advising that all electronic devices should be switched on by security staff at the airport, and those that fail to power up will not be allowed on the aircraft.

“As the travelling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening,” the TSA said in a statement.

The US did not specify what type devices they were most concerned about, but Reuters reported that smartphones made by Apple and Samsung had been singled out for extra checks.

Last week Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, directed the TSA to implement enhanced security measures at overseas airports. The latest checks are believed to be related to intelligence about a new kind of explosive device being developed in Yemen and Syria that could use electronic devices.

The agency said it will “continue to adjust security measures to ensure that travellers are guaranteed the highest levels of aviation security conducted as conveniently as possible”.

It is unclear which, if any airports in the Asia Pacific region are affected by the enhanced security measures. The natural route from the Middle East to the US would be via airports in the Gulf region and Europe, and the BBC reports that the UK, France and Germany have all said they will comply with the US demands.

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