Blockchain is regarded as the greatest technological innovation since the internet. Blockchain has the potential to change the relationship between government, companies and citizens with regard to data exchange, transparency and trust. Experts have been saying repeatedly that for this reason, blockchain is going to change our society forever. It could even make public authorities, banks or notaries completely superfluous. But what are the consequences for technology, the processes in use, and the legal and regulatory framework?
What is a blockchain?
A blockchain is an online register of transactions. The registration of these transactions does not take place in one central place but on a network of computers. Every transaction is controlled by the network of users, thus making misuse difficult. It creates a single truth for everyone. At the same time, the records that have been exchanged are secured using encryption so that persons who do not have permission to view the transactions are prevented from doing so.
How secure are blockchains?
There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the legal and regulatory framework in relation to the development of blockchains. Recording vulnerable and privacy-sensitive information in a blockchain raises various legal questions. Questions about security and trust which form the foundations of a blockchain and are crucial to having any chance of succeeding.
Our Digital Transformation expert team is overseeing several blockchain pilots, works closely together with the Dutch Blockchain Coalition and is part of the Smart Contract Working Group of the Dutch Digital Delta. Our observation is that working in the blockchain is legally speaking perfectly feasible provided that law and technology work together and have been well-attuned to one another by identifying the many legal requirements and, in cooperation with the programmers, translating these directly into the structure. This must take place at the beginning of the process so that it is still possible to tweak the system and not afterwards when the system has already been built. This ensures that the character of the blockchain can remain basically intact.
Legal blockchain certificate
As proof that a blockchain application complies with the legal and regulatory framework, the developer receives a legal blockchain certificate following an assessment made by Pels Rijcken. During theBlockchain Future of Trust Summit 2017, Erik Gerritsen, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, received the first blockchain certificate in the Netherlands. He was awarded this for the first working blockchain application in the care sector, Mijn Zorg Log.
White paper on the legal aspects of
Would you like to know more about the legal aspects of blockchain? Download the White Paper here.
Smart contracts, just like blockchain, is a complex subject. We would be happy to advise you about this as well. Please do not hesitate to contact Sandra van Heukelom or download the report on smart contracts as a specific application of the blockchain technology in which the issues surrounding the legal and regulatory framework and the training requirements related to smart contracts are identified.