PSA: Charge Your Camera Pre-Flight; the TSA Could Take It if It Doesn’t Power On


Yesterday, the TSA announced that those flying to the US from certain parts of the world may be asked to power on their electronics to make sure they are not hiding explosives as part of new security measures. If the gadget doesn’t turn on, you’ll have to leave it behind and could be subject to additional screening.

According to NBC, the new rules were created in response to certain terrorist threats from Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamist Nusra Front in Syria who are supposedly planning to blow up an airliner.

Thus far, the details of the new rule are somewhat vague. The announcement on the TSA website identifies “some devices, including cell phones” as the devices in question, and gives no indication which airports are going to take part.

Lack of details aside, if you’re traveling to anywhere you believe might be affected by the rule change, be sure to charge your batteries before you head back to the US or you might find yourself one camera the lesser and have to suffer some “additional screening” to boot.

(via Engadget)

Image credits: Photograph by David Prasad

  • Spiny Norman

    That could be a big problem with my Nikkormat…

  • Rhonda Merrick

    Why are people so filled with hatred and comtempt for human life? I just honestly don’t understand that.

  • bob cooley

    You can just trip the shutter, and it’s “on”.

  • bob cooley

    I’m actually surprised that cameras aren’t checked more carefully in TSA lines. I’m not saying I WANT that to happen, I don’t. But I often travel with a couple of bodies, a bunch of lenses, and (my favorite) – several solid batteries (like Quantums) that show up as solid block on x-ray. With all the extra cables, etc, I carry I can only imagine what that must look like traveling through the airport scanner. Yet, my bag is very rarely pulled or checked.

    And honestly, I never mind the few times it has been – if anything looks like a bomb, it is a backpack full of cylinders, solid battery packs, and messes of wires, remote triggers (pocketwizards) and assorted electronics…

  • cacamilisseacht

    It will soon be quicker to sail to the “New World” lol

  • Oskarkar

    Terrorists reached their point: to make us live in a terrorized world.

  • Maay

    The thing is, every camera I know has a battery pack that can easily be taken out of the body. Same for laptops. (Exception made of a lot of products from Apple…).
    So why not ask to leave behind just the battery pack ?…

    And then there is the problem of forcing someone to part with a rather valuable piece of equipment, or risk missing a flight (and therefore losing quite a bit of money). I didn’t mind too much when it was about easily replaceable, relatively cheap liquids. But now, where is the line between forcing someone to part with expensive personal property (your camera) under threat of losing even more money (flight ticket), and theft ?

    I’d really like to see what the law has to say about this, especially if the rules are as “vague” as you say they are.

    And what are they going to do with these equipment they collect ? resell them ? give them to charity ? pay for their destruction ? send them by post (in appropriate packaging) to their rightful owner ?
    Are they going to inform all passengers during check in, and provide enough power outlets and power/plugs converters in those airports, to allow for people to recharge their battery between check in and security control ?

    What a crazy world we live in…

  • ramanauskas

    So the TSA thinks that terrorists are simultaneously (1) so incredibly smart and skilled that they can build a dangerous explosive into a device the size of a compact camera and (2) so incredibly stupid and inept that they can’t build it so it can it turn on and look like it’s just a camera. Right. I feel so safe with these people running my country.

  • Adrian S

    My fist digital compact camera had two batteries and the lens assembly, next to it. They just had to open my bags just to make sure it’s an actual camera. Camera gear would be great to hide something, but I also think that there are a million other ways to “cheat” the scanner.


    why in the world would you want to test a device that you think could have a explosive inside? cant a terrorist set it up to blow up when turned on? so if it does get checked it will still kill some people? would a terrorist just give up and let him self be caught or make a plan so it blows up if its checked? i thought all you need was to do some swaps and see if the device has any trace explosives on it and thats exactly what the x-ray people do when they see something that resembles a explosive.

  • Kynikos

    This. If terror is your aim, blowing yourself up at the checkpoint is just as good as taking down a plane.

    Ah, Islam. The Religion of Peace…

  • Jeremiah True

    I fly infrequently and my bag almost always gets pulled apart.

  • Jeremiah True

    When I have flown and this has come up they hand check it with me present. I can’t touch it but I can answer questions and make sure they don’t mess things up.

  • travelingmama

    I’m flying from London to Atlanta this week and will be bringing back a bag of gear including multiple external hard drives in my carry on. Any thoughts on whether this will be an issue?

  • docholliday666

    My two favorites are TSA morons trying to look through the *back* of my Hasselblad trying to find the viewfinder – and when they want me to fire my Metz 70 to “be sure it works”. At full power, in their face, they get the point real quick.

  • markz

    Israeli, Russian and other experience already shows that the perps are often willing to detonate at security checkpoints if they fear detection, and, unfortunately, that’s pretty much the risk security handlers are placed in.

    if you have clean room technology and are able to hermeticly seal the explosives in the fake/semi fake device then once that’s done you just need to clean enough residual chemical traces from the exterior to escape routine swab testing.

    This is probably what intelligence agencies believe is happening.

    As for the effect, the small amount of explosives with probably negligible shrapnel (you still have to get it past x-rays, having a dozen roofing nails show up in the xray of your phaplet is probably a give away) means that an explosion in a security check will probably be deadly for the handler, with possible fatalities and serious injuries with in a few meters, but the risks are reduced compared to a plane flying at 10,000meters.

    At the ground checkpoint you have medical staff at hand and evac in a mater of a few minutes reducing fatalities.

    In a plane, assuming such a small device will not cause catastrophic hull failure you might have hull breach and decompression (which potentially could increase fatalities), you will be probably have 30 minutes or more before you have trained paramedics and evac, increasing fatalities from trauma.

  • ms

    might want to just ship them ahead via UPS or FEDEX… especially if it’s something important to you

  • markz

    more working parts = less exploding parts,
    no point making a device that still shoots 4K footage of your tsa security checkpoint staff but blows up like a wet squib and just embarrasses you with a slightly scorched hand.
    building small, but fully functional devices in to bombs to take out a single user who’s holding it up too their head is easy (Mosad has been doing it for years) making one that will reek death all around… less so.

  • Adam Cross

    “from certain parts of the world” …. we all know they mean the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

  • Pete

    I’m all for Christianity, but Christian fundamentalists scare me too. I’d rather not characterise a whole religion based on it’s craziest followers.

  • Carsten Schlipf

    Obviously the most active terror organization in the USA is the TSA.

  • dorarcheek

    as Thelma
    explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in four weeks
    on the internet . more info here R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­

  • Peter Drage

    When are we going to realise that the War on Terror has been lost, every day we lose a little more liberty, rights and freedoms in the name of security. 30 Years + we lived with IRA bombing the mainland UK without losing 1% of what we have lost since 9/11. We are sleep walking into giving all our freedoms away through fear. I have more chance of dieng in a car crash on the way home than I ever will from terrorism.

  • samisin

    Yeah, I am sure they are gonna check that it is 4K footage…

  • samisin

    Yeah… USA – the religion of freedom and peace… :P

  • Kynikos

    Christian fundamentalists are also scary. Especially the ones who, like Muslims, are into the child-bride stuff. But at least the christian crazies aren’t blowing up planes, yet.

  • mike smith

    Islam the religion of peace and a whole lot of body bags.

  • markz

    maybe not but with modern consumer electronics such as phones and P&S cameras you pretty much can’t choose a part to remove to make enough room AND keep it functional for enough explosive to be worth more than a fart in the wind. It’s pretty much a case of remove it all and replace with a fake constructed to make room the explosives (which will probably be picked up in xray) for replace the entire guts with moulded fake parts that are the explosive
    so the simple functionality/power cycle test on something like a phone or a point and shoot would (along with a great many false positives) pick out these.

  • Bolkey

    Avenging 3000 victims 100 fold is always a good incentive.

  • Michael Hemingway

    Just arrived in Montreal from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport and I heard of this sort of check on “all electronic items” for the first time. Thankfully, business class tickets seem to be exempt from the search, although that should pose a security risk too. Either way, the x-ray machines can easily see that a lens is a lens and that even bulky 1D-type bodies contain shutter mechanisms. I’d worry about film cameras, especially when there’s a roll in the body. I always fear that they’ll take the camera out of my hands and open the back.