Florida Legislators Introduce Bill to Recognize Blockchain Records and Smart Contracts

Edward Kim  |

Try not to be distracted by what Korea or any other country may or may not do with digital currency trading. In the grand scheme, that's just the magician's patter, the dancing monkey, the attractive assistant. No one really knows what the ultimate fate of individual digital currencies may be. We think that some will appreciate significantly, while many are destined to be mere historical footnotes. What we're really paying attention to is what's happening with regulations and legal recognition of the validity of blockchain records and smart contracts. This is where the real worldbuilding will happen, and, as it so often does, the building will be driven by the states before it hits the national wavelength.

Two legislators have introduced a bill this week into the Florida House of Representatives that would establish a legal basis for blockchain data records and the smart contracts based on those records. Representatives James Grant (R) and Jackie Toledo (R) introduced Florida House Bill 1357, "An Act Relating to Information Technology," that, among other things, states that:

  • A contract may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because it includes a smart contract term, and
  • Rights of ownership or use of certain information are not affected by the use of blockchain technology to secure such information

Florida State Legislature (Image: Politifact)

The bill concludes by stating:

  • The use of blockchain technology to secure information while engaged in interstate or foreign commerce does not affect the rights of ownership or use held by the owner of such information unless the terms of the transaction expressly provide for the transfer of such rights

As Nikhilesh De at Coindesk succinctly captured it, "If someone used a blockchain ledger to store information, the bill would legally recognize that person's rights to that information."

Mr. De continued, "Last year, Arizona passed a similar measure, with identical notes on confirming blockchain records as electronic records, as well as giving smart contracts legal force. A slightly different bill in Vermont, when passed in 2016, allowed for the use of blockchain-based data as evidence in court."

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