Today at work I have some arguments with a colleague. He is stating that unregulated technologies are illegal. Not sure if it makes a difference but the technology we were talking about is cryptocurrency.

Is there any principle in law that says that unregulated inventions/technologies are illegal?


In the United States, no. For something to be illegal in any meaningful way, you have to be able to point to a law that makes it illegal. If there's no law to break, it's not illegal.

I would wonder if your colleague was thinking about question of whether cryptocurrencies are legal tender. For something to be "legal tender," there would need to be some kind of law or regulation requiring people to accept them as payment. There is no such requirement in the United States, so Bitcoin, for instance, is not legal tender. But that doesn't make it illegal tender; it just means that people can decide whether to accept it or not.


Is there any principle in law that says that unregulated inventions/technologies are illegal?

None. Your colleague is totally wrong. Your colleague's position inevitably leads to the conclusion that --since its invention-- the wheel is illegal insofar as it constitutes unregulated technology.

Laws are a dragging and oftentimes distortionary reaction to technology. In theory, regulations are devised to harmonize interests and prevent/mitigate/remedy undesirable ramifications of an innovation. But in reality, regulations oftentimes are the mechanism by which policy makers and judges hinder the adoption of new inventions and natural progress. This is because policy makers and judges oftentimes:

(1) serve the interests of lobbyists or special groups; and/or

(2) don't have a thorough understanding of an innovation and its foreseeable effects in the economy, technology, society, etc.

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