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USA to screen tablets,
e-readers and handheld games before they fly

Ten US airports already do it, the rest will follow soon, foreigners may be spared

Domestic air passengers within the USA will be required to remove any electronic device larger than a smartphone from their carry-on bags for screening before boarding.

A Transport Security Agency (TSA) announcement names “tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles” as the target of the new rules, which “require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes.”

The new rules mean “TSA officers will begin to ask travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years.”

Ten US airports have already trialled “screening procedures with quicker and more targeted measures to clear the bags” to ensure the new rules don't cause extra delays. The TSA nonetheless warns “It is possible that passengers may experience more bag checks”.

The TSA's recent laptops-on-planes bans were implemented due to intelligence suggesting terrorists hoped to hide damaging materials inside laptops, with the aim of disabling or destroying a passenger plane. These new rules suggest bad actors may be thinking outside the box, so to speak, to contemplate sparking something nasty with a Kindle or a Game Boy.

The TSA's announcement says the new rules are part of its “effort to raise the baseline for aviation security worldwide”, but doesn't explicitly state that airports that host flights to the USA will be forced to adopt the new screening rules. Travlers pre-registered with the TSA will also be spared the extra screening. ®

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