Security screening on mobile phones on flights in to the United States will be increased amid fears that smartphones can be used as part of a terrorist attack.
Smartphones, including Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy handsets, have been singled out by US officials, who say terrorists have found a way to conceal incendiary devices inside phones to avoid detection.
Officials told Reuters that passengers flying in to the US from Europe, the Middle East and Africa could all be subjected to the extra security measures after the US Government warned of Al-Qaeda efforts to make an undetectable bomb.
Airlines who fail to adopt the increased measures may face bans on their flights in to the country, with several governments, including the UK, Germany and France, already agreeing to comply with the US request to increase security.
The new security measures will mean passengers need to turn on their mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices before passing through security. They could also be subjected to ‘vigorous’ body searches and clothes swabbing to check for traces of explosive residue.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg warned of the threat posed by the “medieval, violent, revolting ideology” behind the alleged bomb plots.
In an LBC radio interview he said: “We have to make sure the checks are there to meet the nature of the new kinds of threats. Whether it is forever – I can’t make any predictions. But I don’t want people to think that this is just a sort of a blip for a week. This is part of an evolving and constant review about whether the checks keep up with the nature of the threats we face,”
The UK’s two largest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, denied there had been any delays so far, citing the fact that the measures have yet to be fully implemented.