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Currently, there is no publicly available technology which would permit one to time travel.

However, assuming one were to create such technology, is there any laws prohibiting time travel? I am interested in the various jurisdictions within the United States, but answers based on other jurisdictions would be interesting to read as well.

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    What basis would there be a law forbidding a non-existant technology that is currently listed as impossible? It would be like asking in 1887 is travel to the moon was legal. – sabbahillel Apr 18 '16 at 20:47
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    Anyway, it's not impossible, we are all traveling into the future at 1 second per second – Dale M Apr 18 '16 at 21:33
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    Go ask those questions on physics.se - something has to be possible by the laws of nature before you have to worry about the laws of man – Dale M Apr 18 '16 at 21:34
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    @DaleM no that is clearly false. Laws don't have to make physical sense. You can ban attempted conduct. I don't see why one couldn't pass a law banning attempted time travel. – Viktor Apr 18 '16 at 21:35
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    @Viktor I think that is the wrong analogy. There it was a fact that they did not know that rendered the attempted crime impossible. Here the question is would the legislature pass a law forbidding conduct that is impossible. An analogy is that someone tried to patent airplanes dropping torpedos at a time when airplanes could not drop them and torpedoes could not survive hitting the water. The court ruled he could not. Similarly the law could not be passed until time travel became (theoretically) possible – sabbahillel Apr 18 '16 at 22:56
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In theory, this should be protected by the UN Dec. of Human Rights:

Article 13 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. 2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Since it does not specify the type of movement, or restrict its dimensions, this could be construed to include freedom of movement through time as well as space.

Other than that things like this there is no real law regarding this.

  • It does provide a basis assuming no side effects, and when the process on entry or exit is by normal means. However you do not have the right to enter or leave your country anywhere and at any time, or commit a crime in the process. – LOIS 16192 Feb 13 '17 at 15:33
  • The UN Declaration of Human Rights is not law. – abelenky Feb 14 '18 at 21:36
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The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was enacted on December 20, 1991: the act restricts phone spam. For almost a year after that, "text messages" were impossible, until the first text message was sent on December 3, 1992. The courts have held (Campbell-Ewald Company v. Jose Gomez, Keating v. Nelnet) that a text message is a "call" and thus prohibited in the relevant circumstance. Smith 2007 "Why originalism won't die" (2 DJCLPP 159), and millions of other authors, have noted that the law states what is legally permitted, in broad conceptual terms – it is not limited to just what happens to be possible right now, thus the First Amendment concept of "press" applies to things that were impossible at the time. (Whether or not patents can be issued that protect property rights to non-existent things is orthogonal). I am aware of no legal precedent for invalidating a law just because it describes something that cannot currently be done.

So it becomes a simple matter of searching all of the laws to see if there happens to be such a ban enacted. There is a microscopic level of support for the idea that China has banned time travel, though actually that seems to be a ban on TV shows with time travel. As far as I can tell, no legislative body has been so crazy as to ban time travel.

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Your premise is flawed - it is possible to time travel - and more then 1 way to do so, and there are no laws prohibiting time travel.

The ways in which one can time travel include:

  • As a person aging on the face of the earth.
  • By travelling very fast - and people do do this (eg people on the ISS)
  • By travelling between timezones (NZ to LA is a very good example - 20 hour time difference but only 8 hour travel time, crossing a date line)
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    traveling between timezones is not time travel, it is just moving where you start counting from. I havent shrunk if i decide to measure myself starting at my knees – Topher Brink Nov 23 '16 at 0:04
  • I get your point, but disagree - it depends on the purpose of said time travel. Its entirely possible, for example, to celebrate the same occasion, at the same time more then once by travelling through time via time zones- and indeed this could have legal consequence for meeting of deadlines in legal contracts (And I could make physiological and philosophical arguments as well) [ tongue firmly in cheek] - after all, time is relative. – davidgo Nov 23 '16 at 3:06
  • There is a film in which the resolution depends on Man M serving notice on a Woman W, whose Agent A has the bright idea of following Man M four timezones to the west and serving notice on Man M several minutes according to the clock before Woman W had been served, despite occurring much later, thereby securing some kind of precedence in a proceeding. While possibly not entirely accurate, the basic premise definitely exists. @davidgo – Nij Feb 14 '18 at 8:42
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Under the constitution, United States Courts are prohibited from hearing and ruling on any legal case when there is no standing. Thus, for all US jurisdictions, determining the merits of a law restricting the use of time travel is moot without a demonstrable use of time travel as recognized by the courts. At this point, there is no current law on the books and any current violation of existing law cannot be ruled upon until time travel beyond the rate of one second per second is provable.

Similarly, the rights of Aliens, Vampires, and Sentient computer programs do not exist as of this moments as they have not been demanded by entities that hold standing to demand these rights and you cannot legally demand these rights for someone else. Chewbacca, Dracula, and Ultron must file these suits in a court of law in order to have them (Though Spock does have these rights, as he is half-human, and assuming his mother is a United States citizen).

In short, there are no laws which are legally tested to affect time travel in any positive or negative way as of time of writing and it is illegal to hear cases on such matters until time travel is demonstrably proven. Thus far, this leaves the only laws regulating time travel to the the ones found in physics text books. So remember, when dealing with space-time: 6.71 x 10^8 miles per hour: It's not just a good idea. It's THE Law!

  • You don't need to be a U.S. citizen to have rights in a court of law, you merely have to be a person. Indeed, one of the main reasons that the federal court system was created was to allow aliens (mostly British one) to enforce their legal rights. Dead people routinely bring lawsuits - indeed, I am a lawyer for a dead person at this very moment. Non-humans such as corporations also routinely bring lawsuits. Also, courts are among the most notorious offenders when it comes to going back in time and changing what happened via nunc pro tunc orders, reformation judgments, and other legal fictions. – ohwilleke Feb 14 '18 at 23:58
  • All of which are legal entities which have some degree of standing to demand the courts respect their legal rights. Thus far, no personhood has not been conferred to the likes of aliens, vampires, and Sentient AIs as no known entity has stepped proven that they are these types of entities and claimed legal person-hood. Again, to answer the question, there is no legal merit to prosecute a time traveler under any extant law because it has not come up as a provable component to a legal question. – hszmv Feb 15 '18 at 15:14
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If you travel back to before you reached the age of criminal responsibility, you cannot be convicted even if time travel is illegal. Authorities go by the time elapsed from your birth by normal Earth time when they decide if you are old enough to be punished for crime.

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    You really need to cite a credible reference for this, since your premise is not necessarily valid. It would make no sense to consider a negative age, for example, or that a thirty-year-old is legally ten because they have travelled to a point when their ten-year-old self also exists. – Nij May 14 '17 at 9:36

protected by Community Feb 14 '18 at 14:50

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