Legal authorities all over the world continue to attempt to fit blockchain technology into their existing legal frameworks and laws. A recent ruling in China has done quite a lot to clarify how the decentralized ledgers known as blockchains might be able to contribute evidence to ongoing investigations on the part of law enforcement. This could be significant, because it could conflict significantly to the decentralized nature of the ledger.
The precedent-setting decision came from a court within Hangzhou City in China. The court ruled that blockchain technology can be used to gather evidence, and that this evidence could be used in a variety of different types of legal disputes that might arise between constituents and their governmental bodies. This remark comes from the Hangzhou Internet Court, a subsidiary body of the general court which deals exclusively with legal disputes arising from internet technologies.
The court has recently had to address a myriad of questions concerning the use of blockchain technology, as well as decentralized entities on the internet. Cooperating closely with other governmental agencies all over the country, regulatory bodies such as the Hangzhou Internet Court are tasked with the difficult charge of either creating new laws regarding crypto technology or applying existing legislation and laws to the emerging tech.
The original dispute that led to the court’s decision arose from a Hangzhou media company against a tech firm in Schezhen. The plaintiff accessed codes, data, and evidence using baoquan.com, an organization which uses blockchain technology to gather and store evidence. The most significant question which arose during the case was whether or not blockchain technology can be used as a way to legitimize and authenticate evidence.
Traditionally, this authentication process comes from the notary service. Companies specializing in notarization sign on to guarantee the legitimacy of pieces of evidence which arise during, or even before, a trial begins. The immutability of information stored on the blockchain means that it presents an interesting technological challenge to the traditional model of evidence authentication.
The Court Decision
In simplest terms, the court decided that it should keep a “neutral stance” on the usage of blockchain technology on cases. In this particular adjudication, the court found that the technology was used in a way that is both reliable and doesn’t fall victim to significant conflicts of interests. When this is the case, the court finds that blockchain technology is a legitimate way to gather, store, and analyze evidence to be used in the legal sphere.
Additionally, the court seems to have taken steps to embrace the usage of blockchain in the evidentiary process in Chinese courts. They created a new e-evidence platform which will allow participants in disputes to file evidence using both regular notary methods and third parties, which would include blockchain platforms and deposition companies.
Moving forward, this precedent will be important in characterizing the growing role of decentralized ledger technology within the complex legal dynamic of the massive country.