New “coins” or tokens and their platforms are all the rage. Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Zcash, Dash, Ripple, Monero, the list goes on and on and new ones keep popping up. The new coins are either entirely their own platform or they are derivations, i.e. spin-offs of one of the existing virtual currency platforms.
Technology is permeating all aspects of society. Legal constructs are the latest to be infiltrated. We will discuss some of them in upcoming posts, including blockchain, smart contracts and related concepts. First we need the building blocks to understand how the blockchain works.
Bblockchain is a form of a decentralized ledger technology. It is decentralized, or distributed, because it operates on a peer to peer basis. There is no centralized database of the chain or any blocks. Instead, for each blockchain there are various computers or servers which operate as “nodes” for the applicable chain. Each node contains the entire chain, and nodes review any proposed block and it must be verified prior to it being added to the chain. Nodes can be anonymous.
One of the current and future hot button legal issues is privacy law. As technology progresses, how it intertwines with privacy rights is going to be an interesting area. There are many instances where people knowing and willingly forego certain rights to privacy, like allowing certain apps to track their movements or share certain information with the world. There are many instances where people give up part of their privacy rights without even knowing it.
There are a host of areas that people in the United States think of as “privacy” rights, some of which are (1) our individual right to choosing to be alone (to not be taped or viewed in private), (2) decisional privacy (right to contraception, access to abortion, right to marry whomever you choose, right to procreate), (3) information privacy (right to not have your information disclosed to third parties), and (4) others. Each of the privacy rights that we hold as individuals may arise from different areas of law including constitutional law, statutory law, agency regulations and even social norms.