Technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, blockchain, is well on its way to mass adoption. U.S. state of Washington has passed a bill acknowledging and protecting the legal status of electronic records related to the distributed ledger technology.
According to reports, the bill, Substitute Senate Bill 5638, was passed and signed into effect on April 26th. The new bill provides legal definitions for the terms “blockchain” and “distributed ledger”. As per the bill, blockchain means a cryptographically secured, chronological, and decentralized consensus ledger or consensus database maintained via internet, peer-to-peer network, or other similar interaction.
Whereas distributed ledger technology means any distributed ledger protocol and supporting infrastructure, including blockchain, that uses a distributed, decentralized, shared, and replicated ledger. The bill also defines electronic records as a record generated, communicated, received, or stored by electronic means for use in an information system or for transmission from one information system to another.
The bill has a separate clause that is dedicated to preventing discrimination of electronic information gained through blockchain or distributed ledger technology. The section reads:
An electronic record may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is generated, communicated, received, or stored using distributed ledger technology.
The original version of this bill had its first reading by the Washington state ledger earlier this year in January. Three months later, the bill has been passed and reportedly will go into effect by the end of July this year.
Interestingly enough, the bill also provides the reason of its pro-blockchain stance. Sec. 1 of the bill reveals that the legislature intends to encourage the development of the distributed ledger technology.
Washington isn’t the only state in the U.S. to have passed pro-blockchain bills. In March last year, the governor of Tennessee signed a bill pertaining to blockchain technology and transactions. It recognized the legal authority of blockchain technology and smart contracts in conducting electronic transactions. It also had a provision that protected ownership rights of certain information secured by blockchain technology.
Ohio state legislature also introduced a pro-blockchain bill on April 26th, allowing the government to implement blockchain-powered solutions in their ecosystem. According to reports, the bill would prospectively legalize applications such as recording car titles or hunting licenses online, where they could be accessible by authorized agencies on a secure distributed ledger.
Blockchain Adoption in Governments Around the World
Despite harboring apprehensions for the blockchain technology initially, governments around the world seem to have realized its true potential, which is clearly much more than just the underpinning technology behind cryptocurrencies. There are numerous countries that have delved into blockchain innovation, research and technological advancement. While some are still in the process of conducting trials of blockchain applications on a small scale, others have already adopted blockchain technology head on.
The government of the extravagant city aims to become the first-ever blockchain-powered government by 2020. Purportedly, they will leverage blockchain technology in different spheres, like facilitating license renewal, payment of bills and even the arduous visa applications.
The main purpose behind this endeavor is to increase efficiency. Dubai is an attractive destination for tourists which leads to an influx of millions of visitors. This also means a substantial amount of man-hours are dedicated to processing millions of documents every year. This is where they plan on bringing in blockchain as a paperless system could save a large percentage of the man-hours resulting in government savings.
The government of Estonia is known for being the first to embrace blockchain technology for government use. It has been actively involved in engineering blockchain-driven solutions in order to streamline many government activities. The first area of adoption and implementation was in the country’s registry database across several sectors such as security, legislative, health and judiciary. In addition to that, the Estonian government also issued “ID-kaarts” which are blockchain-based national identity management system in order to improve timelines and the quality of government service for the citizens.
Gibraltar is one of the first few governments that approved a blockchain exchange, the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX). It is a subsidiary of the country’s stock exchange and allows for the integration of blockchain technology with the country’s trading and settlement system.
As governments around the world realize the use cases of blockchain technology and its potential to revolutionize and streamline government activities, mass adoption of blockchain might happen sooner than we think.