TSA flags traveler after 'seeing Bitcoin' in his luggage

TSA flags traveler after ‘seeing Bitcoin’ in his luggage

Feb 28, 2014

On the heels of news that tons of Bitcoin currency has evaporated into the internet and is now essentially binary code trapped in a WiFi signal (or something), it seems people—including TSA agents—are as confused as ever about what Bitcoin is, what it means, and if it’s safe.

After believing they had “seen Bitcoin” in an airline traveler’s bag, two New Hampshire TSA agents flagged Davi Barker for further screening. Pretty sure this thing is reaching Skynet levels of paranoia.

Hackles were already up after Barker declined an optional full body scan. Upon searching his possessions, the agents’ suspicions were confirmed. Sort of. Barker definitely had on his person several physical units of the very tangible Bitcoin tender. Because it is about as possible to carry a digital currency as it is to pet Schrodinger’s Cat.

Davi Barker seemed to agree, asking the pair of agents: “Do you have a superior officer because I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.” Calling agents of the United States government dumb probably didn’t help his cause. But he wasn’t wrong.

The Bitcoins in question? Buttons. Buttons bearing Bitcoin logos. An error so Luddite it’s almost adorable. Honestly, I’m just jazzed someone in a position of authority knows less about Bitcoin that I do.

Even if TSA agents had seen literal bitcoins, why would that prompt a security stop? Well, the concern seems to be that people may use Bitcoin to move illegal amounts, or illegally obtained or intentioned money across international borders. The thing about it is that Barker wasn’t leaving the country with his dangerous Bitcoins – nor did he have on him more than the maximum amount of cash allowed for international travel – $10,000. So the mere vague notion of possessing the nebulous currency is enough to draw unwanted attention. Good to know!

Among Barker’s luggage: Bitcoin hoodies and other branded schwag, making him Public Enemy Number One.

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