As previously reported, state legislatures throughout the country continue to propose legislation designed to facilitate the use of blockchain-based technology by businesses within their states. In recent weeks, legislatures in Florida and Nebraska have each proposed laws streamlining the transaction of business electronically and through use of distributed ledgers on blockchain applications. In Arizona, the state senate just passed a bill allowing residents to pay income taxes through a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
Given this flurry of legislative activity, one would reasonably assume that widespread implementation of blockchain technology had already occurred. In fact, as recognized by the January 31, 2018 Final Report from the Illinois General Assembly Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Task Force, Bitcoin remains the only successful, scalable implementation of blockchain and distributed ledger technology to date.
While recognizing that most blockchain applications remain in early development stages, the Illinois task force report expresses significant optimism for governmental applications of blockchain, concluding that “it is clear that distributed ledgers can begin a transition to a smarter, cheaper and safer way to administer government.” In particular, the task force envisions blockchain as a means for government to transition to being a verifier, rather than a custodian, of residents’ identity information – a shift that would allow for highly-secure methods for interacting with the government, promote the use of paperless records, increase data accuracy, and provide increased cybersecurity protection. The report considers various governmental applications for blockchain technology, including social benefits distribution, public transportation, waste management, and disaster recovery grant distributions.
Given the nascent state of the technology, the task force generally steered clear of recommending broad legislative action to regulate blockchain technology. Instead, the final report focuses specifically on overhauling archaic property law standards to clear the way for use of blockchain and other digital applications to modernize the property recording process.