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TSA Set To Require Separate Screening For Electronics Bigger Than A Smartphone

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Get ready to unpack that carry-on if you have electronic devices.

The TSA is rolling out new rules making it easier to x-ray anything bigger than a smartphone.

The threat causing this change is one that doesn’t go away, but seems to constantly evolve: Technology.

“This is basically the same policy that’s existed for over 10 years for laptop computers, just extending that policy to anything that’s larger than a smart phone,” says Ben Yelin, of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security.

If it’s smaller than a laptop, it will be screened like a laptop.

That means tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles must come out of carry-ons in security.

TSA agents will instruct passengers ahead of x-ray machines to place them in separate trays.

It’s recommended that carry-on bags be carefully organized to help speed things up, though some are skeptical.

“Any time you empty your bag, you’re stalling,” said one traveler WJZ spoke with at BWI.

“We all got tons of electronics today, so it’s going to be two or three that you gotta take out of your bag,” said another, Ron Latwell.

“You gotta watch it, make sure you get it back. So yeah, definitely a little bit more of a hassle.”

That hassle is to prevent what happened to an Air Somalia plane last year, when explosives hidden in a laptop were detonated. Intelligence agencies believe that threat has been miniaturized.

“Storing explosive material within tiny batteries,” says Yelin. “We now know it doesn’t have to be a large device to store explosive material, or to store something that could detonate explosive material.”

And by separating devices out of carry-ons for x-ray scanning, “you do actually get a better view of the skeleton of the battery.”

A date for the new screening to begin at BWI airport has not yet been set.

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