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Blockchain: Moving target or trusted tech trend? 

Susan Dworak (sdworak@realidentities.com) is a legal compliance and identity expert based in Silicon Valley, California, USA. Teri Quimby (teri@teriquimby.com) is an attorney, speaker, author, consultant, and former state regulator in Lansing, Michigan, USA.

Government often finds itself in the uncomfortable situation of applying old regulations to new ideas; it’s a regulator’s worst nightmare. Legal and regulatory umbrellas need to be flexible enough to expand with the passage of time, yet definitive enough to endure history in the making. For example, a decade ago the ideas of social media and apps were different than today. The idea of ordering a cup of coffee using an app, paying for it, and picking the product off the counter with your name on it—without talking to a single human being—seemed unimaginable. Enter disruptive blockchain-based solutions, which may initially sound like something from a sci-fi movie. While the idea of an immutable, irreversible distributed ledger technology may disrupt the way we do business in many sectors in society, it definitely does so with increased attention from and scrutiny by government officials. The key is to implement regulations based on enduring legal principles that can be applied in the future even as the underlying technology changes. We don’t know what future technology brings, so applicability should include some level of discretionary authority. Flexibility and agility provide authority even when the rate of technology disruption appears to make promulgation of a regulatory framework tantamount to hitting a moving target.

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