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posted by girlwhowaspluggedout on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the is-that-a-bitcoin-in-your-pocket dept.

girlwhowaspluggedout writes:

"Davi Barker, co-founder of the BitcoinNotBombs advocacy group, has recently described a run-in he had with the TSA. Barker was about to board his plane on his way back from the New Hampshire Liberty Forum, when he was stopped by two TSA agents. Barker, who was wearing a BitcoinNotBombs shirt and carrying a few hundred metal lapel pins some with the logo of Blockchain.info, a popular Bitcoin wallet and block explorer service was just cleared by airport security. But the TSA agents wanted to search his luggage again. They were looking for his Bitcoins:

I turned back to the orange shirt and asked 'What did the Bitcoin look like?' Bill chimed in and told the agent that what he was saying was impossible because Bitcoin is digital and doesn't have have any physical manifestation. You can't 'see' Bitcoin. The orange shirt said they looked like medallions or tokens. I said I didn't understand what he was talking about, and he simply repeated, in a child like way, that Bitcoins are like metal tokens. I told him that I didn't have any tokens.

The TSA agents suspected he was travelling internationally with over $10,000 worth of Bitcoins. This, presumably, might be seen as a form of money laundering. When another member of his group said that Barker was not going to fly out of the country, the agents simply turned around and disappeared."

 
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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Daniel Dvorkin on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:04PM

    by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:04PM (#9654) Journal

    ... is actually a pretty smart guy. I've never been able to bring myself to ask him how he tolerates working with these people on a daily basis.

    --
    Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by internetguy on Sunday March 02 2014, @07:05PM

      by internetguy (235) on Sunday March 02 2014, @07:05PM (#9707)

      Why would a smart guy work as a TSA agent? I would rather be a trash man than someone working as a propagandist promoting fear in the security theater industry. If he's smart then he should be helping to promote peace rather than installing fear in the citizenry.

      --
      Sig: I must be new here.
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Daniel Dvorkin on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:16PM

        by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:16PM (#9717) Journal

        I think his attitude is more or less "it pays the bills and doesn't use up my mental energy for the important stuff in life." I wouldn't be happy with a job like that, personally, but I know several people who are and I have to admit they seem to be a lot less stressed than I am a lot of the time.

        --
        Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
        • (Score: 2) by edIII on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:23PM

          by edIII (791) on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:23PM (#9719)

          Not to mention, it's hard to judge somebody that just wants to eat.

          It's a terribly shitty job that does nothing positive for freedom or our well being, but in this Great Depression, I won't begrudge any of them a paycheck that keeps them fed.

          Now, if this was an explosive economy chock full of jobs left and right, I would agree that your buddy is an asshole and has a lot in common with those working in the DMV or the IRS during "peace time".

          --
          Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by RedGreen on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:30PM

            by RedGreen (888) on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:30PM (#9722)

            "during "peace time"."

            Has the US ever had a peace time because in my 50+ years on this planet I don't remember them ever not fighting someone or thing and if my memory serves me in its entire history it has been the same since it was founded...

            --
            "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
            • (Score: 2) by edIII on Sunday March 02 2014, @10:44PM

              by edIII (791) on Sunday March 02 2014, @10:44PM (#9796)

              I mentioned peace time in quotes as an analogy for a good economy. Something which we haven't had now for almost a decade, and I've no hope of seeing one any time soon either.

              --
              Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by SpockLogic on Sunday March 02 2014, @10:56PM

              by SpockLogic (2762) on Sunday March 02 2014, @10:56PM (#9803)

              ""during "peace time"."

              Has the US ever had a peace time because in my 50+ years on this planet I don't remember them ever not fighting someone or thing and if my memory serves me in its entire history it has been the same since it was founded..."

              "We've Always Been at War with Eastasia."

              The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex needs war to keep you proles in line.

              --
              Overreacting is one thing, sticking your head up your ass hoping the problem goes away is another - edIII
              • (Score: 3, Insightful) by edIII on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:15PM

                by edIII (791) on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:15PM (#9813)

                By "in line" you mean nice productive little cattle that they can feed parasitically on through taxation with thinly-veiled-corrupted-cronyism as representation?

                --
                Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mhajicek on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:39PM

          by mhajicek (51) on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:39PM (#9727)

          While I sympathize with the man's need for employment, doing something immoral is not excused by getting paid for it. On a related note I'm on vacation in Florida right now; we drove down from Minnesota. I protest the TSA with my wallet.

          --
          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by umafuckitt on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:08PM

            by umafuckitt (20) on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:08PM (#9740)

            While I think the TSA is rather over the top, I think calling them immoral is to devalue that particular adjective.

            • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:32PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:32PM (#9751)

              Exactly. They are simply groping thugs without any morals or ethics.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04 2014, @07:33AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04 2014, @07:33AM (#10495)

              Especially when going to Florida.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:28PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:28PM (#9720)

        Being able to legally grope little girls and see them nude without pedo charges?

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:36PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:36PM (#9752)

        Maybe he monkeywrenches. I know they do a lot of testing with silhouettes to catch people officially "slacking" although unofficially I'm sure they catch some monkeywrench activity.

      • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:18PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:18PM (#9817)

        On the other hand, he's probably not nearly as judgmental of others as you are.

        • (Score: 1) by internetguy on Monday March 03 2014, @04:15AM

          by internetguy (235) on Monday March 03 2014, @04:15AM (#9899)

          >> On the other hand, he's probably not nearly as judgmental of others as you are.

          His lack of ethics concerning the use of fear tactics, and other techniques used by communist regimes, on his fellow citizens is not judgmental.

          --
          Sig: I must be new here.
    • (Score: 2, Funny) by evilspacemonkey on Sunday March 02 2014, @07:41PM

      by evilspacemonkey (614) on Sunday March 02 2014, @07:41PM (#9710)

      Yep, I don't know how both those guys do it.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by einar on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:10PM

    by einar (494) on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:10PM (#9659)

    I never understood when it became forbidden to leave a country with a bag full of your own money. The restriction of money import/export is something I remember from former eastern block countries.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:13PM (#9663)
      You're supposed to use banks to launder your money like the other big time criminals.

      No small timers or "independents" allowed to cut in on the lucrative state sanctioned monopoly over money laundering.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Jerry Smith on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:36PM

      by Jerry Smith (379) on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:36PM (#9671) Journal

      I never understood when it became forbidden to leave a country with a bag full of your own money. The restriction of money import/export is something I remember from former eastern block countries.

      It's restricted throughout the whole European Union, and from and to the EU.
      Here's article that has some information, I already put it trough the translator for you so you won't have to inform yourself:
      http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=e n&js=n&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fnl.wi kipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FWet_ter_voorkoming_van_witwas sen_en_de_financiering_van_terrorisme&act=url [google.com]

      --
      All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by evilviper on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:55PM

      by evilviper (1760) on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:55PM (#9678) Homepage Journal

      I never understood when it became forbidden to leave a country with a bag full of your own money.

      It isn't. You just have to declare it.

      Leaving with a bag of money from drug sales, or other criminal activity, though, is not. It should be pretty obvious why.

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
    • (Score: 1) by davester666 on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:51PM

      by davester666 (155) on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:51PM (#9703)

      It isn't forbidden, you generally just have to report that you are doing so.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:50PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:50PM (#9756)

      Money does not equal currency. They're all wound up about currency not money.

      Its not your currency. They're just letting you use it... for now.

      Some of it is a hangover from the pre-fiat currency days, pre-free(ish) trade olden days. They wouldn't let you export tree logs without licenses and taxes, so they're not going to be amused about exportation of gold or a certificate exchangeable for gold. Now that currency is all fiat it doesn't matter so much.

      Note that you can carry / have control over as much money as you want without declaring currency. Walk right on thru with a checkbook connected to a $100K brokerage account, they just don't care. Ditto the linked ATM card in the wallet, or credit cards with limits over $20K. Just don't carry stacks of pieces of paper printed by the treasury department called by most people "cash", that gets them ALL wound up.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Dunbal on Sunday March 02 2014, @10:08PM

      by Dunbal (3515) on Sunday March 02 2014, @10:08PM (#9766)

      In the 1970's. The original restriction was $10,000 US per traveling party if coming IN to the US. It's not illegal to do it, you just have to fill out an additional form once you declare it. Of course customs concentrates on the "and we get to confiscate it and keep it if you don't declare it and we catch you" part. IANAL so I can't cite the exact laws, but recently (in the past 15 years or so) the US also wants to know if you are LEAVING the US with more than $10,000 US per traveling party - this time under anti-money laundering, terrorism and drug trafficking laws. Most countries (at least here in Latin America) have adopted similar restrictions and penalties thanks to the US insisting that everyone else adopt certain US laws if they want to be allowed to trade with the US.

      So long story short - $10,000 in the 1970's could buy you a luxury car or it was a hell of a slice of a house. Now you won't buy a car with it, much less a house. It barely covers the cost of a modest family vacation in Europe. But it's still $10,000 nonetheless and it won't change. Combine that with increasing restrictions on credit card use overseas (for your "security" of course, I'm sure you understand why we can't process that rental car/hotel payment), and traveling is becoming more of a pain in the ass every day.

      And then there's the thugs who probably think that bitcoin looks like this [bloomberg.com] of course.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Bill, Shooter Of Bul on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:36PM

    by Bill, Shooter Of Bul (3170) on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:36PM (#9697)

    http://images.dailytech.com/nimage/largest-bitcoin -exchange-suspends-withdrawals.si.jpg [dailytech.com]

    Every story about bitcoin shows some version of this. "Digital" doesn't really mean much to people these days. They had "analog" cell phones that were physical, and they were replaced with "digital" cell phones that were also physical. So, by that rationale, bitcoins are physical coins, but moar digital and better. They possibly might even be webscale or have more Gee Bees for all he knows. No one questions how things work, they just use them.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Angry Jesus on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:50PM

      by Angry Jesus (182) on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:50PM (#9702)

      That's the kind of mistake that is entirely reasonable for regular people to make.

      But it really sounds like these guys were acting on some sort of TSA policy briefing. And if that's the case, then TSA management has profoundly screwed up in a way that perfectly lines up with the stereotypes we have of the agency.

      FWIW, rather than focusing on the "digital" part of it, I would have compared it to an MP3 - "what does an mp3 look like?"

      • (Score: 0) by Bill, Shooter Of Bul on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:06PM

        by Bill, Shooter Of Bul (3170) on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:06PM (#9739)

        I'm not sure that people still remember downloading or burning mp3's anymore. I'll ask the local teenagers and get back to you.

        • (Score: 1) by ButchDeLoria on Monday March 03 2014, @09:31PM

          by ButchDeLoria (583) on Monday March 03 2014, @09:31PM (#10247)

          Yeah, all the cool kids have moved on to FLAC.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:12PM

      by sjames (2882) on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:12PM (#9741) Journal

      That's fine and dandy for the average guy on the street. But if you're going to be demanding things under color of authority, you have a responsibility to know what you're demanding at the very least. The more authority you lord behind your impossible and uninformed demand, the more stupid you look.

      • (Score: 0) by Bill, Shooter Of Bul on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:25PM

        by Bill, Shooter Of Bul (3170) on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:25PM (#9744)

        Oh, no. I wasn't excusing their blind stupidity. Just trying to make sense of their senselessness. A fools errand, I know.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by NovelUserName on Sunday March 02 2014, @10:50PM

        by NovelUserName (768) on Sunday March 02 2014, @10:50PM (#9799)

        My thoughts exactly. I understand the GP in that the less educated might make this mistake, but this incident just underlines the TSA's incompetence at their appointed task. If we expect the TSA to be any sort of effective, then we need the TSA agents to be well educated, so that they don't make this kind of mistake. We can't have them let through something dangerous because they assumed the opposite: that a weapon was digital for instance.

        IF we acknowledge that the TSA serves an important purpose (which I am not actually willing to concede) then the TSA must do a better job of selecting or training their employees. Without this no amount of equipment, security lines, blacklists etc., will accomplish the TSA's goals.

        • (Score: 1) by Mykl on Monday March 03 2014, @05:17AM

          by Mykl (1112) on Monday March 03 2014, @05:17AM (#9912)

          +1, Insightful

    • (Score: 1) by bornagainpenguin on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:44PM

      by bornagainpenguin (3538) on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:44PM (#9754)

      http://images.dailytech.com/nimage/largest-bitcoin -exchange-suspends-withdrawals.si.jpg [dailytech.com]

      Every story about bitcoin shows some version of this. "Digital" doesn't really mean much to people these days. They had "analog" cell phones that were physical, and they were replaced with "digital" cell phones that were also physical. So, by that rationale, bitcoins are physical coins, but moar digital and better.

      Thank you! This is exactly the thought that came to mind when I read the summary.

      To an average (non-techie) person when someone says coins, those are what come to mind, especially in an age where all sorts of gold coins and silver coins are being minted for use as Zombie Apocalypse currency.

      Presumably there was (as already suggested elsewhere in the comments) a briefing and some uninformed person spread the ignorance that caused the incidence mentioned in the article.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by jt on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:48PM

    by jt (2890) on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:48PM (#9701)

    Remember when it was illegal to export crypto algorithms as these were categorised as munitions, and people tattooed Perl implementations of algorithms to their bodies before flying out? Well, now we can do the same with crypto currencies, and tattoo the addresses to our bodies instead. Bonus: we don't have the shame of people seeing Perl code on our bodies.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by maxwell demon on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:35PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:35PM (#9724) Journal

      Well, the funny thing is that strictly speaking, the bitcoins are not at one specific place. You can take your "bitcoins" with you and at the same time keep them at home on your computer, and also on a backup disk, and even have dropbox copy them all over the world, because your wallet doesn't really contain the bitcoins, it just contains the information you need to spend them. If you make a copy of your wallet, you don't make a copy of your bitcoins: You don't have twice as many bitcoins. In some sense the wallet is more like your banking card: It doesn't contain the money, but allows you to access the money. Only that with the banking card, you can at least in some sense locate the money, namely at your bank. But in the case of bitcoins, the actual money is in the network, distributed all over the world. And therefore it is not really possible to carry bitcoins with you.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 0, Troll) by dbot on Monday March 03 2014, @02:34PM

    by dbot (1811) on Monday March 03 2014, @02:34PM (#10045) Journal

    The way I see it, for what this guy might have been trying to do (draw attention to his organization and blockchain.info, and get bitcoin in the news again), this is his best case scenario.

    We know what libertarians (or the general population) already think about the airport Services. Putting the b word on your shirt is just asking for additional Service.