Excuse me if this post isn’t up to the usual standards of Daystrom Institute, but as I’m looking for an in-universe discussion of this topic, this community felt the most appropriate.

Does anyone else feel like the Temporal Prime Directive is a potential security risk? You’re a security officer, and you find an intruder on board. Before you can call it in, they implore you “Stop! Temporal Prime Directive! This is important!”

Now you’ve paused, thinking any action could cause a temporal paradox, or damage to the future timeline.

Hell, just that pause alone might be enough for them to draw a weapon on you and neutralize you, if they are hostile.

But, assuming they don’t attack, suppose the intruder says “I can’t tell you what I’m doing or why, but just know it’s imperative, and I have to remain hidden. Please go about your business and ignore me.”

You’re in a catch 22. If you leave them be, it could turn out they are an enemy spy or saboteur. If you report them, it could turn out they are telling the truth, and you cause a big temporal problem.

This question is inspired by VOY S05E24, “Relativity”, where Seven of Nine is sent back in time to Voyager (before she had joined the crew), and she gets caught and confronted by Janeway. Ultimately, Janeway doesn’t just take Seven at her word, and makes her explain what’s going on, but I’m not sure we should be taking cues on the proper application of the Temporal Prime Directive from Captain Kathryn Janeway.

What are your thoughts?

  • buckykat [none/use name]@hexbear.net
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    6 months ago

    The unspoken thing about the Prime Directive is that a Federation Captain’s most solemn duty is deciding when to ignore it, and the same goes for the Temporal Prime Directive.

  • Value SubtractedA
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    6 months ago

    As far as I know, the directive mainly applies to officers who are sent back in time and/or given the opportunity to change established history. I don’t think it would prevent someone from making an arrest in their “proper” time.

    At most, it might limit their ability to interrogate the prisoner, if they can verify that the intruder is from the future and possesses knowledge that the contemporary officers can’t have.

    • ApostleOOP
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      6 months ago

      I guess I assumed a sort of corollary.

      Starfleet personnel ends up back in time on a Starfleet vessel. We both serve the same organization. My duty is to protect the timeline I come from. Your duty seems, implicitly, to aid a fellow Starfleet officer in their mission (to protect the aforementioned timeline).

      It seems like Starfleet should have a dedicated Temporal Security crew on every starship and starbase for such an occasion. You find a supposed time traveler, you immediately call this team. They sequester the intruder and go through a careful interview to verify their claim as cleanly as possible, then render what aid is needed to secure the timeline and get them home (or, barring that possibility, get them somewhere isolated where they can’t contaminate the timeline). Then, maybe memory wipe the Temporal Security team (and possibly anyone else who interacted with the traveler). On the flipside, if you end up back in time, it’s expected you should immediately attempt to contact the local Temporal Security crew.

  • Melllvar
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    6 months ago

    Chakotay once used the TPD as an excuse to not answer a question from Janeway.

    And she just accepted it.

  • T156@lemmy.world
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    6 months ago

    Now you’ve paused, thinking any action could cause a temporal paradox, or damage to the future timeline.

    You can also arrest them anyway. Logically, it would fit into the timeline, since if they’re from the future, they should have accounted for those circusmtances, including their arrest in their future timeline. And a scan would show a fair few forms of time travel, which you can use to verify, or any connections that you might have with other temporal entities. Time travel is a bit convenient like that, until everything goes horribly wrong.

    But ultimately, nothing actually prevents someone from just out and out lying. They could easily say “oh, sorry, can’t say, Starfleet Intelligence business”, or “I’m here on Captain/Engineering’s orders”, and you’d have that delay in either case to verify the story. The Temporal Prime Directive doesn’t really factor into it.