There is no actual known plot to use hollowed-out electronic devices to smuggle bombs onto airplanes headed to the United States, Homeland Security Administration officials admit. Nonetheless, Homeland Security announced this weekend that it is implementing a draconian new policy against electronic devices. Any electronic device, such as a cell phone, tablet or laptop computer, that is not sufficiently powered to turn on at the request of TSA officials will be taken away from travelers. If you didn’t happen to power up your phone or computer before going to the airport, that’s tough luck. You’ll have to give up possession of your equipment.
Combine this announcement with the old story, from the last days of George W. Bush, that border officials have been given the authority to search through cell phones and laptops carried by people traveling in and out of the United States, and it looks like the Department of Homeland Security is gaining a new method for spying on the private, personal, lawful activities of its own citizens.
Reason to be suspicious of the motives of this latest Homeland Security tactic is considerable, given another revelation this weekend: Edward Snowden’s data shows that for every one foreigner targeted by the National Security Agency, nine Americans have their data seized as well. As we’ve been warning for years, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act actually seems to have been designed to operate as means to create surveillance against Americans, not foreigners.