House Lawmakers Re-Introduce Bill to Provide Legal Backing for Blockchain Records

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It marks the latest of several other acts recently introduced that hone in on the emerging technology.

Blockchain-based records and smart contracts would gain legal recognition and status under a new House bill recently put forth by Reps. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., and Darren Soto, D-Fla.

The newly introduced Blockchain Records and Transaction Act forbids the denial of legal effect and validity for any electronic record, signature, or smart contract “solely because it is created, stored, or secured on or through a blockchain.’’ 

The bill intends to extend the federal definition of “electronic records” to include blockchain and records maintained via the distributed ledger resource, and permit records secured on blockchain to be certified as legitimate e-signatures. 

If passed, the legislation would also incorporate coverage of blockchain and smart contracts into the federal law that governs the use of such signatures in commerce, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000. 

“With the growth of blockchain technology, it’s up to Congress to provide a legal framework to support its technological advances,” Soto said in a statement. “As a lawyer and notary, I understand the importance of validated signatures for legal documentation as an essential starting point in building a blockchain-enabled infrastructure.”

The bill follows another by the same name introduced by Schweikert in 2018, which was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce but did not come up for a vote. The latest version of the act was also referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“Too many of our laws are continuing to prohibit innovation and advancements for efficiency in our society,” Schweikert said. Both he and Soto are chairs of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus. Schweikert added the bill marks a piece of the group’s “continued work to future-proof our policy.”

The chamber recently passed two other bills with blockchain-related provisions.

Brandi Vincent is a staff correspondent at Nextgov.

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