Davi Baker wasn’t quite sure how to comply with the TSA’s demands to inspect his bags for Bitcoin. Baker had found himself in a testy exchange with airport security personnel during an enhanced screening, and they wanted an additional search of his belongings.
The problem is, of course, Bitcoin is a completely digital currency; it’s like if Delta banned you from traveling with your Facebook profile. Baker was admittedly snarky in response, asking “What did the Bitcoin look like?”, thinking it would be impossible to describe a nonexistent physical object.
The agents had a response: the alleged Bitcoins looked like tokens and since they told him it was illegal to travel with more than $10,000 in cash, the probe was warranted. It might be easy to mistake this request for simple ignorance, but one of the security agents, according to Baker actually had a grasp on some Bitcoin facts.
When Baker asked how much he thought his alleged tokens were worth, the agent responded, “It fluctuates all the time.”
That’s very true: the digital currency has become notorious for wild swings in value, on top of being a tool for purchasing illicit goods.
Whatever the legality or contorted logic of the added inspection, it appears there’s a knee-jerk negative reaction to the notorious currency.
The TSA was not immediately available for comment on this story. You can read the full blog post here.
Update: A TSA spokesman says they have been unable to find the agents in question or verify the incident. I’m told Baker’s story is complicated by the fact that protocol would be to contact law enforcement if someone was taking large amounts of cash for a suspected purpose, rather than request additional screening.