If you have not yet, you need to read Davi Barker’s detailed writeup which details his fiasco with the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) at the airport on his way back from New Hampshire’s Liberty Forum. Many of us are left wondering… Is the TSA targeting Bitcoiners? Or is there something more?
The details of this incident first came to light via a Facebook post that Davi made shortly after the incident which he continued to update throughout his flight. Once Davi made it home safely, he posted a complete synopsis of his experience to his website: Bitcoin Not Bombs. Davi Barker and his travelling companion Bill Buppert also recorded audio immediately after the incident to ensure accurate portrayal of the events.
Davi opted out of TSA’s full body security scanner, and endured the full body pat down. After x-raying Davi’s bag, the Bitcoin lapels from Shinybadges.com that Davi always has were removed from the bag and both the pins and the bag examined individually. After the obvious non-weaponized nature of Davi’s stuff was verified and he was free to go, more TSA agents came, marking the beginning of the excessive harassment of Davi.
Two more well dressed upper level TSA agents approached Davi and asked to search Davi’s bag thoroughly a second time. When he refused and asked to speak to a superior officer, he was threatened with jail. It wasn’t until it was revealed that Davi was on a domestic flight that the two TSA agents realized they had zero jurisdiction and left. It is indeed very illegal to transport more than $10,000 in any type of currency or commodity undeclared on an international flight. Even if Davi had private keys to over $10,000 worth of bitcoins on a USB, the bitcoins aren’t actually on the USB… They are on the Blockchain. They are on my computer, and your computer.
Davi mentioned to me via email that he does not believe his religious affiliations or his reputation as an individual had anything to do with the incident, which is why he believes that TSA might be targeting Bitcoiners.
The Bigger Issue: Opting Out
The fact of the matter is, opting out of airport security scanners raises a crimson red flag. As far as TSA is concerned, the only people that would choose to opt out of a scanner are those attempting to smuggle something. That belief held by TSA agents has undoubtedly only been cemented over the last year as full body image scanning has moved away from back scatter x ray and towards AIT. TSA, and those influenced by mainstream media on the topic, may now believe that their privacy is being respected with the newest technology which doesn’t allow TSA agents to gaze at your genitalia. For many individuals (such as Davi Barker), opting out is a matter of principle; not surprisingly, it turns out that retaliatory responses from the TSA are also just as guaranteed.
Christopher Elliot of Huff Post (whom always opts out) has an excellent article on how TSA will punish you for opting out of full body scanners. Some will remember that this isn’t Davi’s first incident with the TSA over opting out; what that means is, this isn’t the first time that the TSA has messed with this particular vocal and well-connected person.
What Should Flying Bitcoiners Do?
TSA has declined to respond to my inquiries into this incident and as of yet has made no official comment on this incident or Bitcoin. In the meantime some Bitcoiners may consider travelling without blatant signs of your monetary allegiance. Alternatively, I know there are many Bitcoiners that will now and forever brandish Bitcoin paraphernalia in public places. Even if Davi had $11,000 worth of Cassacius Coins hidden inside him he was doing nothing illegal as he was on a domestic flight.
It is my opinion that Bitcoin items alone will not bring about this type of harassment; it is the combination of Bitcoins and Opting Out that caused Davi Barker so much trouble on his recent flight.
My advice to flying Bitcoiners is this: Know your rights, and exercise them. If you choose to opt out even though the “porno scanners” are gone, expect delays and undue suspicion. I have an inkling that my peers in the Bitcoin world are not ones to back down to a little intimidation at the gates.
Last modified: February 24, 2014 21:34 UTC