An Ohio law that affirmed the legal status of signatures and blockchain contracts became law.
In May, Ohio Senator Matt Dolan presented to the state legislature a bill aimed at clarifying the legal status of blockchain signatures and contracts . The bill, SB300, failed to advance, but parts of its language were included as amendments in a further bill, SB220, which covers IT security and has now become law in the State .
SB220 was approved by the Senate in May and the House in June, and was awaiting a decision by the governor until Friday, when John Kasich eventually announced that he had signed the bill.
Dolan's account, SB300, would have made five major changes to the current Statutes of Ohio. It would have defined "blockchain technology" and "smart contracts". He would also have specified that a person placing the information he owns on the blockchain retains the same proprietary rights as before, and that electronic records and signatures secured by blockchain technology are valid electronic signatures.
Interviewed last month, Dolan said that the legislator could "downsize on a little bit of that language". It seems that it happened. Three of the five proposed amendments, which would have been substantial, died with SB300, while two modest provisions were authorized to live in the form of amendments to SB220. These were the sections concerning the legal validity of the blockchain contracts and the signatures.
The complete language that survived intact is:
"A record contract or that is protected by blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic record."
"A signature that is protected through blockchain technology is considered in an electronic form and to be an electronic signature."
Both sections would constitute modifications to the version of the state of the [Uniform Electronic] Act, which was adopted in slightly different forms by almost every state . The law was created to ensure that electronic transactions have the same force as the transactions completed on paper, specifying that electronic signatures and contracts are binding as those made with ink
Others states also worked on UETA amendments to clarify the legal validity of certain transactions protected by blockchain but it is questionable whether this clarification is always necessary. While such legislation may reduce the possibilities for litigation on blockchain contracts the statement that blockchain contracts and signatures are types of electronic contracts and signatures, respectively, seem self-evident.
Perhaps by also eliminating the shadow of uncertainty, or simply by creating an appearance of openness to blockchain technology, legislators believe they can make their states interesting for businesses blockchain. Dolan was clear that this is his intention. In a press release on the passage of SB220 sent to ETHNews said:
"I want Ohio to be the next Silicon Valley where our schools are at the forefront of coding blockchain, creating an educated workforce that will attract new businesses, innovators and foster a creative spirit in Ohio. "
Tim Prentiss is a writer and editor of ETHNews. He holds a degree in journalism from the University of Nevada in Reno. He lives in Reno with his daughter. In his spare time he writes songs and perfectly disassembles electronic devices.
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