The Law of Blockchain: Beyond Government Control? – 封锁链法:超越政府控制?

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The Law of Blockchain: Beyond Government Control? - 封锁链法:超越政府控制?



Jeff John Roberts

May 10, 2018


Blockchain is the most disruptive technology since the Internet, and its arrival raises hard questions about how — or if — judges and governments can control it. Should federal agencies, for instance, seek to impose “net neutrality” style rules to promote fairness on blockchain networks? Should treasury departments run mining operations to influence digital currencies like bitcoin?

Those are some of topics raised in an important new book, Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code, by two scholars from Harvard and Cardozo School of Law. The book attempts to do for blockchain what the likes of Laurence Lessig and Tim Wu did for the Internet and cyberspace — explain how a new technology will upend the current legal and social order.

In the case of blockchain, it’s still early days and Blockchain and the Law reflects that. It contains little in the way of case law (blockchain disputes are only now coming before judges), and the authors, Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright, spend considerable time explaining just how blockchains work. Namely, they emphasize how blockchain software creates permanent ledgers that are distributed across multiple computers and are mostly beyond the reach of central authorities.

The upshot is what the authors call “lex cryptographica” or a system of rules where autonomous, decentralized code — rather than legislators or judges — determine the outcome of given interactions and disputes.

This has the potential to bring dramatic changes in fields like corporate and insurance law. For instance, a blockchain can distribute dividends to shareholders according to pre-coded smart contracts. Or, in the event of an earthquake, an insurer’s blockchain can consult a third-party server (known as an “oracle” in blockchain parlance) to obtain seismic information and arrange payouts.

Such developments promise new levels of efficiency and legal certainty. But Blockchain and the Law also warns that the new technology could undermine governments and human freedom. For instance, the ability to raise money by selling tokens on a blockchain — so-called “Initial Coin Offerings” — has already let firms do end-runs around the Securities and Exchange Commission. As the authors note, blockchain could do to securities law what the Internet did to copyright law.

Meanwhile, the combination of smart contracts and Internet-connected objects could let manufacturers lock down our everyday possessions with “Property Rights Management” code that can’t be modified or overridden. More darkly, the semi-anonymous nature of blockchains can facilitate all sorts of criminal behavior: A smart contract could promise a reward to hitmen, and pay out when news of the target’s death appeared in the New York Times.

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Some of these concepts are not entirely new. In the case of connected objects taking on a life of their own, legal scholars like Ryan Calo have been exploring the implications for tort and criminal law for some time. But as De Filippi and Wright point out, the introduction of blockchains — and specifically their decentralized, near-indestructible architecture — will make it harder still for the law to keep up.

While Blockchain and the Law raises some frightening scenarios, the authors also pour cold water on the idea that blockchain technology is beyond the control of governments. Even though blockchain ledgers like bitcoin are decentralized and run by computers across many countries, state authorities can still target chokepoints in their infrastructure to exert control. In the same way governments have targeted intermediaries like search engines and ISPs to tame unruly aspects of the Internet, they could do the same to put pressure on blockchain networks.

Drawing on the model described by Lessig in Code, the authors point out law is not the only tool to regulate blockchains. Governments can also employ more subtle tools, like market operations or social norms, to shape the direction of the technology. For instance, they could participate in mining operations on blockchain networks, like bitcoin, in order to control prices and vote on coding decisions.

All in all, Blockchain and the Law is a fine, deeply-researched book that can be expected to show up on law school syllabi for years to come. The task of finding and rounding up blockchain cases may fall to other scholars, in the same way as James Grimmelmann and Eric Goldman built practical textbooks on “Internet law” in the years after Lessig laid the theoretical foundations.

Blockchain and the Law is not just a theoretical guide. It’s also a moral one, as De Filippi and Wright warn that governments who ignore lex cryptographica could lose control of the emerging world of blockchain.

“If a government does not provide protective mechanisms … the current regulatory framework government by the rule of law may eventually be replaced by a system of algorithmic governance, operated exclusively through the rule of code.”

封锁链是自互联网以来最具破坏性的技术,它的到来引发了有关法官或政府如何控制它的问题。例如,联邦机构是否应该强加WPA60304QTENT中立性WPA60606QTE样式规则,以促进BetSink网络的公平性?财政部是否应该通过采矿操作来影响比特币之类的数字货币?这是哈佛和卡多佐法学院的两位学者在一本重要的新书《锁链和法律:规则的规则》中提出的一些问题。这本书试图为Laurence Lessig和Tim Wu的互联网和网络空间所做的事情做一个BBLD,解释一项新技术将如何颠覆目前的法律和社会秩序。在链链的情况下,ITWPA60607QTES仍处于早期阶段,Band链和法律反映了这一点。它在判例法中几乎没有什么(链链争端现在才出现在法官面前),作者Primava de菲利皮和Aaron Wright花了相当多的时间来解释枷锁是如何运作的。也就是说,他们强调BoScLink软件如何创建跨多个计算机分布的永久性分类帐,并且大多数都超出了中央政府的范围。结果是作者称之为WPA60304QTELIX密码AWPA60300 6QTE或一个规则系统,其中自治的、分散的代码而不是立法者或法官决定给定的交互和争端的结果。这有可能在公司和保险法等领域带来巨大的变化。例如,B股链可以根据预先编码的智能合同向股东分配股利。或者,在地震的情况下,保险公司WPA60607QTES链链可以咨询第三方服务器(称为WPA60604QTEORACLWAPPAP60300 6QTE的BLAST链语句)以获得地震信息并安排支付。WPA6022602IMG这样的发展承诺了新的效率和法律确定性水平。但是Band Stand和法律也警告说新技术会破坏政府和人类自由。例如,通过在一个连锁股上出售令牌筹集资金的能力——所谓的WPA60604QTED初始货币提供SWAPP60300 6QTE——已经让公司在证券交易委员会的最后运行。正如作者指出的,B股链可以对证券法做什么,互联网对版权法的作用。同时,智能合同和互联网连接的对象的组合可以让制造商用WPAP60300 4QT产权管理WPAP60300 6QTE代码来修改我们的日常财产,WAPC60607QTET被修改或重写。更黑暗的是,封锁链的半匿名性质可以促进各种犯罪行为:一个聪明的合同可以保证对杀手的奖励,并在纽约时报的TaBWA60607QTES死亡消息出现时支付。关心密码新闻吗?报名参加Ledger的每周新闻。这些概念中的一些并不是全新的。在被连接的对象自己生活的情况下,像Ryan Calo这样的法律学者一直在探索侵权和刑法的含义。但是正如De Filippi和莱特所指出的那样,锁链的引入——特别是其分散的、几乎不可摧毁的建筑——将使法律更难跟上。虽然Band Stand和法律提出了一些令人恐惧的场景,但作者也对BBLAST技术超出政府控制的想法泼冷水。尽管像Bitcoin这样的BitLink分类帐在许多国家被分散和运行,但国家当局仍然可以在基础设施中设置阻塞点来控制。同样,政府已经瞄准了像搜索引擎和互联网服务提供商这样的中介机构来驯服互联网的不规则方面,他们也可以这样做来给BoStand网络带来压力。根据Lessig在代码中所描述的模型,作者指出,法律并不是唯一监管链链的工具。政府也可以使用更微妙的工具,如市场运作或社会规范,来塑造技术的方向。例如,他们可以参与Bitcoin链网络上的挖掘操作,比如Bitcoin,以控制价格和对编码决策进行投票。总而言之,Band Stand和《法律》是一本很好的、深入研究的书,有望在未来几年出现在法学院的教学大纲上。寻找和整理BooClinux案例的任务可能落在其他学者身上,就像James Grimmelmann和Eric Goldman在WAPP60300 4QTENETRANDWAPPA60300 6QTE中建立了实用教科书,这是Lessig奠定理论基础之后的几年。封锁链和法律不仅仅是一个理论指导。ITWPA60607QTES也是一个道德问题,正如De Filippi和莱特警告的那样,忽视密码体系的政府可能会失去对新兴产业链的控制。WPAP60300 4QTIF如果政府不提供保护机制…当前的法规框架政府最终可能会被一个算法治理系统取代,只通过代码规则操作WPAP60300 6QTE。


The Law of Blockchain: Beyond Government Control? - 封锁链法:超越政府控制?

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