Governor John Carney of Delaware signed multiple new bills for his constituents, outlining principles that would allow them to use blockchain technology from now on. The bills, which are simply labeled SB182, SB183, and SB194, show exactly how the local government would allow consumers to preserve their legally-binding data and documents within the blockchain. Blockchain already allows consumers to store legal documentation, but the use of digitally-signed contracts had not been an option.
New Blockchain Bills Introduced
In the SB182 and SB183 bills, the legislators describe how blockchain will be treated by other companies and legal entities. Before these bills were transcribed, there was no legal obligation for a court to accept them as a valid representation of evidence or permissible documents.
With these two laws on record, Delaware has the capability to offer permission that is described as “specific statutory authority for […] limited partnerships to use networks of electronic databases (examples of which are described currently as ‘distributed ledgers’ or a ‘blockchain’) for the creation and maintenance of limited partnership records and for certain ‘electronic transmissions.’”
The bills do not exactly say what “electronic transmissions” are, but it is implied that it could include any information that the blockchain that would typically be listed on a database instead. However, even with the information on the way that the government approaches businesses with these documentation, the biggest changer seems to be SB194. This bill makes major amendments to the Statutory Trust Act, where it outlines a new way that courts will handle trusts.
CB194 allows someone to prove ownership of a trust, and even allows votes on the trust to be logged on the blockchain via “electronic transmission, including by use of electronic networks or databases, including distributed electronic networks or databases.” With these changes, the bill is supposed to support Delaware’s efforts to “implement policies enhancing the State’s position as leader in the adoption of distributive electronic network and database technologies.
Unfortunately, there is a big hole in the adaption of this bill – there is no restriction on immutable, zero-trust, and permission-less blockchain. However, these blockchains are also trustworthy options to preserve important data. In spite of the fact that blockchains have a clear proof of actions taking place in some way, which does not mean all data is created equal.
It is obvious that the State of Delaware and Governor Carney are working hard to make blockchain a legitimate form of technology for their needs, the verbiage used with some of these bills are worrisome. The language alone is enough to keep some constituents unsure of what qualifies to be stored, and it leaves too much room regarding what is “trustworthy” record-keeping. By leaving these issues open-ended, the courts will have to evaluate each case to figure out the best way to interpret the laws.