Screening baggage at an airport

You know how airport security will occasionally ask you to turn on a phone or laptop to prove that it isn't hiding explosives? Well, that's no longer just a rare inconvenience -- if you take certain flights, it's mandatory. The TSA now requires that you power on your gadgets when flying to the US from "certain overseas airports." If you have a dead battery, you're out of luck. You'll likely have to leave that hardware behind, and you might go through "additional screening" at the same time.

To no one's surprise, the stricter approach is a direct response to short-term terrorist threats. The US is worried that al Qaeda operatives want to bomb an airliner, and the move theoretically prevents these attackers from using hollowed-out electronics to deliver their payloads. The TSA says it will "continue to adjust" procedures to balance convenience and security, so there's a chance that these device checks will go away. Don't count on it any time soon, however. It took years for the TSA to remove its all-too-revealing body scanners, and there's no signs that the administration is eager to rescind its latest rules.

[Image credit: John Moore/Getty Images]

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The TSA won't let you board some flights unless your devices turn on