About to violate an obscure federal statute? There should be an app for that!

July 28th, 2011

Afraid of violating some obscure federal law that lacks any intent requirement? Worried that you might misstep into the pages of Title 18 and the embrace of a U.S. Attorney? Well there should be an app for that–an augmented reality app equipped with a GPS to locate you, a facial recognition program to see who you are with, a voice recognition program to understand what you are saying, and a deep understanding of the depths of Title 18.

Imagine. Whenever you are about to break the law, it alerts you!

  • Alert: You are about to walk onto a protected wetland. Go somewhere else!
  • Alert: Don’t pick up that arrowhead! It is protected by federal law!
  • Alert: Don’t squish that endangered insect! It is protected by federal law!
  • Alert: Don’t violate the Terms of Service of some web site. It is a federal crime!

Rather than committing three crimes a day, maybe you would only commit one or two.
Now is ignorance or willful blindness of your crime app a valid excuse? Would ignoring the app imply some mens rea or intent?
Though, a more accurate three crimes a day app would just alert you to let you know you probably broke a law.
H/T Corey Carpenter