Yup, That’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation… But here is the story behind the news: https://www.dailydot.com/debug/gatwick-airport-seizes-flipper-zero/
For those who follow me on Twitter and the thread, you already had the details, but for those that quickly jumped in on me over at news.ycombinator and even here on LinkedIn without knowing any details, just by reading the news, here are some details:
– I was stopped by airport security because of other elements I had with me, a corkscrew (that was the red flag), lock picking tools and watch opening tools. All electronic devices were ok, the laptop, phone, tablet, flipper zero and wifi module.
– During the search, the security officer took everything out of my bag and inside there was the white/orange flipper zero, in its original case, turned off. He put that on the table whilst searching my backpack.
– So obviously, the flipper zero was on the table, and along comes the security supervisor and what she said immediately was “oh look at what we have here”.
– She asked me if I knew what that was; I said yes
– She asked me if I knew “what this thing does”; I said yes. I’m a security researcher, I use it for research purposes and will be using it abroad.
– Now for those that don’t know, working in security and using the flipper zero is legal in the UK (I was travelling from London Gatwick). There’s no law that restricts the purchase and usage of the gadget.
– She then took my boarding pass details and passport and told me she had to have a chat with the head of security.
– After that, both came to talk to me and asked the same questions; do I know what that is (I said again yes and only yes). do I know what that does (I said yes, and again only yes)
– They replied that because it can read and copy their ID badges, I cannot have it in my hand luggage (I was just carrying my backpack).
– I replied, “but I need that for research, it’s not illegal and yes, can read your badges, but not only that and that’s not illegal”.
– They argued that because it’s a threat to the airport systems, it’s not permitted in hand luggage, but I can have it on the hold luggage.
– I then told them “I don’t have other luggage and I only carry the backpack with my equipment with me”.
– That was the moment I decided to step back and told them “ok, so you can keep it, and can I have it back when I return?”
– The answer was “no. you cannot and we’ll seize the equipment”.
– I asked if I could remove the sdcard, which I did.
– Then I replied that “if this device can read your id cards, then you really must update your security systems, because it’s a legal device and the problem isn’t the device but your security”.
PS: just to add that this wasn’t the first time the flipper zero travelled with me, but it was the first time it was outside my backpack (because of the security flag of the corkscrew). I’ve been travelling with the flipper zero across Europe without any issues for much of this year, but just now someone ‘saw’ it (the security supervisor, as the guy searching the backpack was clueless about the device) and flagged it as a threat for the airport (id badge scanning).
Now, the end of this story is the response from Gatwick Airport to the news report of the situation:
Of course, having such geek device which can do multiple things is always a risk and might create a threat to systems and security, but applying a blank protocol without having reasonable doubt, not supported by law and just using discretionary views, is a wrong way of doing things.
Hope that helps better understand the situation and can address the comments and speculation about me, what I said, did and what they replied.