UK airport confirms seizure of Flipper Zero from passenger's handbag


Airport seizes of Flipper Zero from passenger’s luggage over security concerns

Governments have been concerned about the device.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Sep 29, 2023   Updated on Sep 29, 2023, 10:38 am CDT

A security employee at the Gatwick Airport seized a Flipper Zero this week from a passenger’s backpack, the Daily Dot has confirmed.

Technologist Vitor Domingos stated in a post on X that his hacking tool was taken on Wednesday due to security concerns, leading him to believe that the device was forbidden from being carried in hand luggage at all U.K. airports.

In subsequent remarks, Domingos said that he was initially asked by security if he knew what the device did. The technologist replied by stating that the Flipper Zero is capable of, among other things, scanning and copying badge cards such as those used by the airport’s security personnel.

“If I can copy your badges, then you might want to fix that before banning a legal device,” Domingo reportedly said.

That is when things, according to the technologist, went “downhill.”

After having the device deemed a security threat, Domingos says his Flipper Zero was handed over to Sussex Police. The Daily Dot reached out to the Sussex Police for comment but did not receive a reply by press time.

Domingos also noted that he was in possession of lock-picking tools at the time, equipment commonly used by security professionals. Despite noting that the Flipper Zero was a tool he relied on for work, police refused to give it back.

The Daily Dot reached out to the airport’s media relations team and spoke to a London Gatwick spokesperson who confirmed the seizure.

“Security staff confiscated a Flipper Zero device being transported in hand luggage through the airport on Wednesday. The device was voluntarily surrendered by the passenger and handed to Sussex Police at their request,” the spokesperson said. “Our highly trained security staff work to spot risk and maintain high standards to ensure the safety and security for passengers and the airport.”

When asked whether such confiscations were part of airport policy, the spokesperson confirmed that such seizures are done at the discretion of airport security personnel and not part of an aiport-wide mandate.

Domingos did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Dot.

While other devices with similar capabilities have long existed on the market, the Flipper Zero has stirred concern outside the technology community for its ease-of-use.

Since being introduced on Kickstarter in 2020, the hacking tool has faced numerous hurdles.

Last year, PayPal initially refused to release more than $1.2 million in funds sent to the device’s manufacturers after claiming its account was inconsistent with its user agreement.

Later last year, Flipper Zero announced that a shipment containing 15,000 devices had been seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The devices were eventually released without explanation.

The Brazilian government also began seizing Flipper Zeros in March after labeling the security tool as being used for criminal purposes.

As revealed by documents obtained by the Daily Dot earlier this year, the federal government has been monitoring discussions about the device online and has even expressed concerns over its potential use by white supremacists against the power grid. Experts argue that such concerns significantly inflate the capabilities of the Flipper Zero.

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*First Published: Sep 29, 2023, 10:37 am CDT