Blockchains and Cybercurrencies Challenging Anti Trust and Competition Law
7 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2017 Last revised: 28 Mar 2018
Date Written: December 1, 2017
Blockchain technology has come to most people’s attention through Bitcoin as the leading cryptocurrency today. But the technology can be used for a lot of other applications as a way to store decentralized data and information. Blockchains are filing their records through a continuously growing number of single “blocks” which are linked and secured using cryptography. Typically, such blockchains are managed by a peer-to-peer network using a specified protocol for validating new blocks. By storing data across an international network, this new technology is operating independently of any government or central bank as it is not residing in a specific area of influence of any given regulation or jurisdiction. Also, there is the question as to which court has jurisdiction in context of blockchain disputes based on the international and anonymous structure. These systems also offer a high level of anonymity to their participants. Given these scenarios it has to be considered that blockchains with shared use of distributed ledgers by several competitors might be a considerable risk under antitrust and competition laws. To get full value for future blockchain applications, a deep cooperation and collaboration on a common platform by all participants – that often will also be competitors – will be necessary. Although collaborating to achieve an outcome more efficiently is generally not sanctioned by antitrust laws, there are still potential antitrust concerns to be considered. And finally, due to the automatic and irreversible execution of blockchain transactions, one has also to think about technical precautions for enforcing any possible court decisions. All these challenges for the future will ask for a strong self-regulation of the market participants in the digital marketplace.
Keywords: Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, Antitrust Law, Competition Law, Distributed Ledger Technology
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