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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
      House Committee on Energy and Commerce
    IntroducedSeptember 26th, 2018

What is it?

This bill — the Blockchain Promotion Act of 2018 — would direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish a Blockchain Working Group to recommend a definition of “blockchain technology” to Congress and evaluate the technology’s public and private sector applications. The working group would consist of heads of relevant federal agencies and representatives of non-governmental stakeholders, like blockchain researchers and consumer advocacy groups.

Within a year of this bill’s enactment, the Blockchain Working Group would submit a report to Congress with a recommended definition of the distributed ledger technology commonly referred to as “blockchain technology” and recommendations for:

  • A study on blockchain technology’s impact on electromagnetic spectrum policy, to be conducted by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC);

  • A study examining the range of potential applications, including non-financial ones, for blockchain technology; and

  • Opportunities for federal agencies to use blockchain technology.

In the course of its work, the Blockchain Working Group may consider any recommendations in the National Institute of Standards and Technology Internal Report 8202, “Blockchain Technology Overview,” released January 2018.

The nongovernmental stakeholders involved in the working group would include information and communications technology manufacturers, software providers, service providers, and vendors; subject matter experts representing industrial sectors that could benefit from blockchain technology; small, medium, and large businesses; individuals and institutions engaged in academic research relating to blockchain technology; nonprofit organizations and consumer advocacy groups engaged in activities relating to blockchain technology; and rural and urban stakeholders.

Impact

Blockchain technology; cryptocurrencies; blockchain technology companies; blockchain technology researchers; blockchain technology investors; FCC; NTIA; and the Commerce Dept.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced this bill to establish a working group of stakeholders across the federal government and private industry to establish a common definition of blockchain:

“As our economies become increasingly digital, more organizations are turning to blockchain to keep track of their business transactions. Blockchain can be a great resource for innovation and technology, but we must figure out exactly what best common definition is and how it can be used. [This bill helps Congress] better understand blockchain and its role in our digital economy.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) adds that blockchain could transform the digital economy, and it’s necessary to develop recommendations for its regulation and use:

“Blockchain technology could transform the global digital economy.  Opportunities to deploy blockchain technology ranges from greatly increased transparency, efficiencies and security in supply chains to more-opportunistically managing access to spectrum. This bipartisan 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.”

Lawmakers and industry experts have called for clarity and uniformity in cryptocurrency legislation. On September 25, 2018, 45 representatives from major Wall Street firms and crypto companies participated in a “crypto round-table” to discuss Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and cryptocurrency regulations. “Big Four” audit and consulting firm Deloitte has named regulatory uncertainty as one of the five major obstacles to blockchain’s mass adoption.

Drew Hinkes, co-founder of startup investment bank Athena Blockchain and a speaker on matters relating to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, opposes this bill. While he appreciates the bill’s sentiment, saying, “I applaud the intention of these Representatives who clearly are trying to help and encourage technology development and innovation in the US,” Hinkes argues that legislation evolves too slowly, whereas technological evolution moves quickly:

“I expect that, upon establishing a 'blockchain' definition, more laws will be created to provide privileges or special treatment for 'blockchains' as defined (i.e., subsidies, tax breaks, different licensing requirements, etc.) that would then exclude systems that don't fall within the statute. This may constructively direct product development and limit innovation…. Given the fast development of these systems, legislation is more likely to 'get it right' if it attempts to guide the behavior of the users of the technology rather than the tech itself. These laws should focus on incentivizing compliance with existing laws, preventing harm, and facilitating innovation."

Congress has recently taken an interest in blockchain legislation. In September 2018, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) introduced three bills aimed at supporting development of blockchain technologies, although those bills were focused more specifically on cryptocurrencies. However, as this bill notes, definitions of “blockchain technology” differ across bills.


Of NoteMultiple states have already taken action to regulate and define blockchain technologyCalifornia Assembly Bill 265B, which provides a legal framework recognition blockchain technology in the state’s insurance code, includes a legal definition of blockchain technology. In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey recently signed the Corporations/Blockchain Technology law, supporting signatures and records secured through smart contracts and blockchain technology. In Delaware, the governor signed a law in 2017 recognizing stock-trading on the blockchain.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / matejmo)

AKA

Blockchain Promotion Act of 2018

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish a working group to recommend to Congress a definition of blockchain technology, and for other purposes.

    Why Wouldn’t Congress Require The Blockchain Knowledge??? Congress and the federal government needs a standard definition of blockchain technology upon which to base legislation. Given the increasing interest in blockchain, it’s important to establish an official definition. Additionally, it’d be beneficial for a working group to evaluate applications of blockchain technology for public and private sector uses. SneakyPete..... 🤔🤔🤔👍🏻. 12*2*18..... SEE: https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-blockchain-technology/
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    The biggest red flag of this bill is that the FCC (with Ajit Pai at the helm), will have an impact and loud voice in establishing the definition. We already know that Pai benefited financially when he ended Net Neutrality. One example, Pai has profit sharing from his previous employer, Jenner & Block LLP. J&B represents cable, telecom, media, and technology companies in a wide variety of matters; including litigation, proceedings before regulatory agencies and transactions. While he worked at J&B, Pai represented communication firms; firms that also benefited from the removal of Net Neutrality. Pai continues to have strong and active ties to J&B, including with his former boss, Samuel Feder. Feder himself once worked at the FCC as head counsel. No coincidence that Pai’s resume and financial conflicts very much mirrors the Bozo who appointed him, #45.
    Like (109)
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    lol, the technology illiterates in Congress that displayed their ignorance during the Facebook testimony? No thanks. Typically, when Congress does anything, they allow the industry lobbyists to write things that benefit them, not us.
    Like (55)
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    Let the industry define what it O does. Running this thru congress will only get lobbyists involved. We know how that works out somebody in congress gets rich and either we or the industry gets screwed.mllI’mkokoo Ok
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    I’m sure the government could find an independent group or person who is expert in this to write the definition so the congress can understand it. This tech is moving way to fast for them to keep up with and a “working group” is akin to how the R wrote the tax scam. Lobbyists all adding their bit to come up with the legislation rather than being of any help to the country or the constituents
    Like (14)
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    I wouldn’t trust Congress to define WiFi let alone blockchain.
    Like (13)
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    Ajit Pai and the FCC he leads doesn't need any more lasting influence over the future of technology in the United States
    Like (10)
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    Blockchain has been doing perfect on the private sector without much government interference, why solve a problem we don't have? The industry went from a small one to very significant on its own, let's not mess that up.
    Like (9)
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    Followed.by a bill to define WiFi and USB-C. Seriously?
    Like (9)
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    Congress couldn’t spell blockchain, let alone ‘define’ it.
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    Congress did not understand that Facebook made money from advertising. I don’t think they can understand let alone define blockchains mathematical algorithms.
    Like (7)
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    Yes, a clear definition should be in place upon which to base legislation. The need for a definition keeps legislation from being set outside those parameters and being left up to multiple Congress people with different views. A prime example for the need is our immigration laws. Our laws are currently so vague that the interpretation changes from one administration to the next.
    Like (7)
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    Good God NO!!! They can't even spell block-chain or have any clue as to what it really means...!!!
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    It makes a lot more sense to let the industry coalitions continue to mature this.
    Like (6)
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    HA! Proves the government doesn't even understand what's happening. The WHOLE POINT of block chain is that it CANNOT be centrally managed, controlled, altered, or - get this - DEFINED. But of course that's why it's a threat to central authorities. See you in the future, losers. Fair warning - there is no use for you there.
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    The industry is still evolving. Don’t damper it yet.
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    Congress is not qualified to define blockchain or any emerging technology, and in any case, doing so is an overreach of government regulation.
    Like (5)
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    Maybe Congress should figure out some simple things first, like how to feed the 16 million children in this country who are food insufficient or house the thousand of homeless vets! After that they can move on to something more complex like common sense immigration and gun laws. I think this is above their pay grade! Leave it to the states!
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    Congress doesn't even understand that Google does not make iPhones. They couldn't define blockchain if Satosho Nakamura went to Congress and explained it himself.
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    It's not a mystery and already defined.
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