U.S. Federal Government Moves Closer to Legally Defining Blockchain


The law is built on definitions. And “blockchain” may soon be getting formally defined by the U.S. federal government.

To date, the 50 U.S. states have been left to their own devices in how they legislatively approach blockchain tech and the cryptoeconomy. What’s been missing has been overriding top-down federal guidance to steer the states’ respective blockchain policies.

But the beginning of such guidance could be nigh, if new activity in the U.S. Senate is any indication.

What’s in a Word?

This week, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee — which is tasked with providing domestic oversight on matters like America’s competitiveness, the internet, and technology in general — voted forward the Blockchain Promotion Act.

The draft law, backed by members of both major American political parties, calls for the creation of a so-called Blockchain Working Group to be spearheaded by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the leader of the country’s Department of Commerce.

That working group would principally be tasked with recommending “to Congress a definition of blockchain technology,” the proposed legislation reads.

The group would be comprised of representatives from various U.S. federal bodies, as well as from blockchain industry experts and academics, and would undertake a “study to examine a range of potential applications, including nonfinancial applications, for blockchain technology” and “opportunities for federal agencies to use blockchain technology.”

What Happens Next?

The Blockchain Promotion Act, also known as S.553, would still need to be passed by the wider Senate and then by the House of Representatives before it could be sent off to President Trump for a signature or a veto.

Since the bill has bipartisan backing, it’s certainly possible it will make its way out of the Senate. The bill would also clearly have some support in the House, as California Rep. Doris Matsui has already worked with Kentucky Rep. Brett Guthrie to put forth a version of S.553 in the U.S. Congress’s lower chamber.

Rep. Matsui noted that the Blockchain Promotion Act’s progress in the Senate was a cause for optimism for anyone hoping to see the advancement of blockchain tech in America:

“This bipartisan, bicameral bill will bring a broad group of stakeholders together to develop a common definition of blockchain, and, perhaps even more importantly, recommend opportunities to leverage the technology to promote new innovations.”

An Interesting Time for U.S. Nook of the Cryptoverse

Blockchain tech is the foundation of cryptocurrencies. And cryptocurrencies took a walloping from President Trump in a series of late evening tweets on July 11th.

In those postings, the president lambasted bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and Facebook’s coming Libra stablecoin as untrustworthy, saying:

“I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air.”

….Similarly, Facebook Libra’s “virtual currency” will have little standing or dependability. If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks, both National…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019

Some stakeholders within the cryptoeconomy will say the president hasn’t fully grasped the potential of blockchain.

Regardless, President Trump has now taken a strong position against cryptocurrencies, and if he realizes blockchain tech is closely linked to crypto, he may not be inclined to sign the Blockchain Promotion Act into law if it one day crosses his desk. It’s definitely a thread to watch going forward.

Blockchain Experimentation Still Happening in America

President Trump may not be a fan of cryptocurrencies, but that hasn’t stopped politically-minded blockchain experimentation from moving forward in the U.S.

For example, Andrew Yang is running for the U.S. presidency in 2020, and he’s come out as a pro-crypto candidate during election season. Now, some in the cryptoverse have taken up the cause by spinning out a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that is specifically designed to boost Yang’s candidacy.

Are you all ready for @YangDAOorg? Let's show the world the power of blockchains as coordination platforms by coordinating capital for @AndrewYang #YangGang memes and campaign promos.

Launching soon – sign up to get a notification!https://t.co/eUscBZ496q

— Ameen Soleimani 👹 (@ameensol) July 10, 2019

Yang is still a darkhorse to reach the White House, but he’ll surely take whatever help he can get. And some cryptoeconomy stakeholders are happy to back someone they see as forward-looking on cryptocurrency.

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