Science Fiction of Jurisdiction – “Minimum Contacts” in a Quantum Internet of Things (QIoT)

The Quantum Internet of Things

This may still be partly science fiction, but a recent article in the MIT Technology Review suggests that there is potential for another paradigm shift in our traditional understanding of data networking:   The article describes how researchers successfully “teleported” proton matter from Earth into orbit.  I can’t pretend to even partially understand the quantum physics of how this works, but it sounds like the testing created a “quantum network” that allowed matter to co-exist on Earth and space at the same time and in a way that permitted information transfer between two exceptionally distant places in physical space—a step toward a “global-scale quantum internet.”

Cyber Law – Jurisdiction and Venue Today

The explosion of the internet and all things “cyber” led to a fundamental paradigm shift in the way courts interpret jurisdiction and venue (i.e. which courts and which laws apply cyber conduct).  In addition, legislatures recognized the need to draft new cyber statutes capable of advancing with the ubiquity of today’s connected devices.  Presently, data packets of 1s and 0s disparately flow across the internet, touching various servers in different states and countries in route to their destinations.

Fundamental legal notions of “where” certain cyber conduct occurs and, relatedly, which courts have jurisdiction and proper venue to hear associated claims were forced to change.  Despite this, the legal analysis still tends to focus, in large part, on “where” data originates and travels over the internet.  See, e.g., United States v. Auernheimer, 748 F.3d 525 (3d 2014) (“The evidence at trial demonstrated that the accessed AT&T servers were located in Dallas, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia. [. . .] No protected computer was accessed and no data was obtained in New Jersey.”) (internal citations omitted).

Cyber Law – New Paradigm Shifts

If a “quantum internet” truly develops in practical terms, what are courts to do when data or matter co-exists in two places at the same time?  The law frequently lags beyond technology advances, but if and when this sort of network technology ever takes off in a meaningful way, it seems that the law will again need to stretch–or even move beyond–traditional notions of jurisdiction and venue that are rooted in physical presence.  If nothing else, the idea that matter can co-exist in two places at the same time certainly boosts the prospects of the alibi defense.

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