Ink Toner Banned On Passenger Flights, As Security Theater Steps Up A Notch

from the not-even-in-a-clear-baggie? dept

It appears that security theater has stepped up a notch. Following the recent bombing attempts that used ink toner cartridges to hide bombs, the US is now banning ink toner on passenger flights. They’re also blocking any cargo aircraft flights from Somalia and Yemen. While you can understand why they’re doing this, as with nearly all responses to air travel threats, it looks like the US is taking a rather blunt sledgehammer to any threat they hear about.

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Comments on “Ink Toner Banned On Passenger Flights, As Security Theater Steps Up A Notch”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Coming soon to Security Theater:

Someone attempts to conceal bombs in a laptop and an iPod; consumer electronics no longer allowed on flights.

Someone gets caught with explosives crammed in their butt; full body cavity searches instated for all passengers.

Someone uses their brain to think about hijacking a plane; passengers no longer allowed on flights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Someone uses their brain to think about hijacking a plane; passengers no longer allowed on flights.

No, no no! You silly person you TOTALLY missed the chance for a “Man with Two Brains” reference there….. 🙂

Alternatively, “Excuse me sir…. would you mind placing your brain in this bomb-proof jar before boarding the flight?” … “Duh… wha?”*drool*

Anonymous Coward says:

Coming soon to a flight near you.

Someone uses fabric explosives. Clothes are not allowed anymore on planes.

The naked people rejoice.

I don’t know where it is going to stop but I’m pretty sure people will start doing business online and using teleconference instead of traveling, this will hurt air travel companies and tourism.

America is no longer the place of dreams is the place of nightmares.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But that still leaves a massive security hole! The pilots! What will happen when those satanic raporists want to destroy our American way of life by flying their deadly sky-carriages into a Dunkin’ Donuts? Donuts are synonymous with American freedom and liberty!

And of course once we’ve taken care of the pilots and have unmanned semi-autonomous commercial flying vehicles traversing our atmosphere for no particular reason, you might think that the ever-vigilant TSA could rest on its laurels then right? Surely the American freedom-loving citizens will be safe once they’re off the planes and submitting to their hourly patriotic voluntary mandatory cavity-probings in the comfort of their own Barcaloungers right? No! It is only then that we will come face to face with the true threat, the very face of evil!

The Bees…

Spectere (profile) says:

Someone attempts to conceal bombs in a laptop and an iPod; consumer electronics no longer allowed on flights.

They already inspect laptops from time to time to ensure that they actually function as laptops. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do that on my first (and, so far, only) time flying, as my laptop didn’t have a working battery at the time. I wonder what they make you go through if you’re unable to power the device on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Man's best friend

What about having dogs inspect passengers and luggage before they even get to the ticket counter? In the US we have them in the back just going through the checked luggage. While traveling in Europe I can’t think of a time I didn’t see several working dogs patrolling the terminals. A would be attacker might just tip his hand when he sees a dog get real curious in him. If they are suspicious they can route the person through tighter security.
This ban everything they used one time is getting old. It certainly is boosting my confidence level knowing these guys are getting paid to come up with these idiotic plans. My three year old has better thinking skills.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Man's best friend

Thinking like a terrorist for a moment:

For the sake of argument say that security scanning is now very effective, with xray and backscatter machines and sniffers and dogs and pat downs. Say that it’s now practically impossible to smuggle an explosive device onto a plane without getting caught.

Posit also that security checks take a certain amount of time, and the checkpoint have limited staff. It seems likely therefore that at a busy airport there will be a long queue waiting at the security checkpoint.

Therefore, doesn’t it seem likely that the queue at the airport is now a better target than the plane?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Man's best friend

Therefore, doesn’t it seem likely that the queue at the airport is now a better target than the plane?

…. Or a train… or a train station (oh, wait, that one’s been done hasn’t it July 7th 2005 London).. or a bus (yep that too)……or a famous hotel.. or a large shopping centre… or a well known building (Ok they flew a plane into one. Pure grandstanding – a bomb would have been just as effective)…. or a…..

Yes folks the answer really is to spend your time locked in your house strapped to your bed with your government issue anally fitted mind probe on. ‘Coz that’s the only way it’s going to happen… oh and then you assume anyone outside is a terrorist and shoot him on sight…. and that includes the police doing the shooting. You get through a lot of police that way but hey, that’s the price you pay for freedom right? and at least it helps the population problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Man's best friend

> Pure grandstanding – a bomb would have been just as effective

They already tried that. The exact same pair of buildings they later flew two planes into shared a common garage. They put a large bomb on it. Blew a huge hole several floors deep in the garage.

The buildings survived just fine with minimal damage.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Man's best friend

The buildings survived just fine with minimal damage.

Was aware of that. I didn’t say what sort of bomb though. The purpose of a terror attack is to terrorise – i.e. induce FUD in the target “audience” and a desired response (such as a knee-jerk removal of the freedoms the terrorist doesn’t like very much). Plenty of ways to acheive that in a building without having it collapse spectaularly and completely on TV – that’s what I meant by grandstanding.

I’m not an american but I’d suspect that the original WTC bombing had a good portion of the same effect at the time, and that if a similar event happened now the political grandstanding that would occur afterwards would meet the purpose just as well. We are, after all, talking about toner cartridges and ink cartridges in this article and that seems to be working just fine on the FUD front.

Of course, if you believe some of the conspiracy theories about the WTC, it was suggested that it may have been a bomb anyway…..

Samuel Walter (profile) says:

Kudos to the TSA for yet another round of ridiculous “security” enhancements! Do they actually think that banning an item as innocuous as a toner cartridge will thwart future attack attempts and make the planes, the people on it, and this country any safer? This is a stupid move anyway you look at it. It adds unnecessary search criteria and responsibility on TSA screeners, who, by any standard, are less than our sharpest knives. It also adds to the growing confusion over what is and is not allowed on a flight.

What if some college student is moving and wants to check a box that contains his printer? Does he have to make sure that he throws away his ink before take-off? What about business travellers who sometimes carry compact ink-jet printers that work with their laptops?

You can see where this is going.In a few months when the some terrorist walks right through screening while the TSA is doing one if its famous random searches of some elderly white woman, and he’s carrying a pen or magic marker packed with Semtex, they’ll forget about the toner cartridges and ban magic markers and pens. Homeland Security, and particularly the TSA have created a security and screening framework that is nothing more than smoke and mirrors intended to lull the masses into feeling safe.

Samuel Walter (profile) says:

Re: pointless

Why would you bother posting such a trivial detail regarding semantics? I think it’s safe to say that, the majority of TechDirt readers are at least as tech-savy as to understand the difference between ink for an ink-jet printer, and toner for a laser. I mean, I know Tron is coming to theatres soon and all, but this isn’t 1983 and nit-picking over the nuances of printers and their mediums does not make you l33t. It makes you an ass.

Shing Shong says:

Re: Re: pointless


Why would you bother responding to that post? I think it’s safe to say that the majority of TechDirt readers are smart enough to know it was pedantic. I mean, I know The Bridges of Madison County came out on DVD recently, but this isn’t… oh never mind, just suffice to say you are a whiny little pussy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: pointless

Shing Shong:

Why did you bother posting a reply to Samuels reply to the AC about the difference between toner and ink? Suffice to say that most Tech Dirt readers are used to pedantic correctophiles. How often is the first comment to a Tech Dirt article someone correcting Mikes spelling or such? I mean, I know that the earth’s magnetosphere is weakening over the south western Atlantic but no need to nit pick the nit picker.
He might have OCD anyway.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Truthfully this is going to far ...

“While you can understand why they’re doing this, as with nearly all responses to air travel threats, it looks like the US is taking a rather blunt sledgehammer to any threat they hear about.”

In the name of airline security I think I should give a couple dozen more ways to take down airplanes …

Oh wait if I do that it would require MRIs of all passengers, a 24 hour waiting period, and people to fly naked. The whole naked thing might be fun though.

If you give up freedom for security you lose both.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Truthfully this is going to far ...

The whole naked thing might be fun though.

Trust me, it wouldn’t be. As a young adult male I can say that it seems there are very few attractive females on planes by percentage compared to everyone else you would have to look at as well. At least this seems to hold true for the places my company has flown me over the last five years.

Michael (profile) says:

Wait! My Toner!

Who is travelling on a commercial flight with a toner cartridge?

That is always one of the things I pack:
1) Toothbrush
2) Underwear
3) Toner
4) Sun glasses

The only reason I can think of to carry a toner cartridge with me is if I was carrying a laser printer with me. Another one of my travel staples. I always have trouble fitting my Xerox Phaser 6128 in the overhead compartment.

The TSA does love to make headlines though.

Anonymous Coward says:

What’s missing in the fun discussion of naked passengers and toner cartridges is that people will die as a result of this and other stupid policies.


Because more and more people are going to refuse to put up with these blatant 4th Amendment violations and choose to drive rather than fly. Given that driving is more dangerous than flying, some of those people will be killed in accidents.

Anonymous Coward says:

Killing people is not a goal of a terrorist. If that was the goal, they could just have their terrorist buddies that live in the US go to Walmart, pick up some guns and go shoot up a school, mall or post office. Obviously here in the US, that happens already. Why are terrorists not focusing on that right now? Doing so would not keep Americans from traveling to other countries. That is one of their goals, getting us out of their country. Doing so wouldn’t stop us from financing countries they don’t like.

Anonymous Coward says:

So you think security theater isn’t effective? Even with 9/11, the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, OK City and others, the chances of actually being killed are very small. 9/11 happened and people were afraid to fly. That hurt our economy which is why GWB came out and said “go out and buy things” (and Obama made fun of him for saying that but now he is saying the same thing.)

So little chance of being killed by terrorists but still people were in fear. Throw in the security theater to make people feel like they are actually safe (and they are) then people are not afraid to fly, travel, see the sights and get back to living.

Course, now the problem is people are afriad for their jobs, so they are not spending.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

None of those guys had working bombs. The shoe bomber’s shoes wouldn’t have detonated because the fuse was a piece of shit that would have burnt off. Same with the underwear bomber. They tried using SIM cards to activate bombs ,and that doesn’t even work reliably on planes.

Not a single terrorist was stopped by TSA, hell the previous examples prove it. Those who want to commit terrorism will always be one step ahead. The only way to stop them is at their nascent birth in the world of terrorism, and you can be sure that the TSA aren’t there to stop them.

Anonymous Coward says:

AC, you miss the point of “security theater”. Security theater is not about protection, they have real things that attempt to keep bombs off planes (and some things that don’t work too well.) Security theater is about making people comfortable flying. Currently, the chances of being on an airplane that is attacked or blown up is very slim. You are safe. Security theater helps to get rid of the fear of terrorists.

Funny thing is, the bigger the pain in the butt something is, the better the effect of security theater.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Security theater is about making people comfortable flying.

That’s actually worse. It’s dumb enough to do this kind of thing if you think it actually protects people, but to willingly abuse civil liberties for the sake of “theater” strikes me as heading for horrific. (OK I know ink cartridges are not a civil liberty, but I’m talking generally).

It’s also a constant source of worry to me that some sheeple might swallow this kind of farce. I mean, these people get to vote too, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

AC, of course TSA didn’t stop them, that isn’t the point of “security theater”.

The point is to give the general public a warm and fuzzy about flying (even if security is a pain in the butt, in fact, being a pain in the butt is the point.)

Security theater is more about a show to make consumers feel safe and also to a point, to deter terrorists.

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