Improvising electronic devices is not a crime

Supporters of Star Simpson — the 19-year-old MIT student who inadvertently caused a total freaking flipout at Boston's Logan International Airport last week for wearing a sweatshirt with an attached homemade light-up device — are selling these t-shirts to help cover her legal fees.

Link, at Instructables.

Authorities in Massachussetts are throwing the "infernal machine" book at her, claiming the shirt was a "hoax device" intended to look like a fake bomb. Simpson denies this charge.

FWIW, I can't fault airport security personnel who spot an unfamiliar electronic device, worry that it might be dangerous, and question accordingly. That's what they're there for. But why do prosecutors still insist on carrying these charges against Simpson, despite clear and abundant evidence she meant no harm?

Over at Politech, Declan McCullagh has a great post up about previous cases of *actual* hoax devices.

There's a big difference in intent with this case, no matter how ill-advised the young Ms. Simpson's fashion choices may have been last Friday morning.

On CNET, Chris Soghoian has a blog post about "TSA's misguided war against 'make'ers, and tinkerers and other electronics geeks," also worth a read.

Soghoian lists some past examples of devices used to blow up planes. At left, the World War II German Exploding Chocolate Bar (image courtesy "M15 History For Schools").

More than 60 years and we've learned nothing? Why are chocolate bars still being sold in airport snack shops around America with such careless disregard? This is an outrage.

Previously on Boing Boing:

  • MIT student arrested for entering Boston airport with "fake bomb"