Blockchain Technology as a Regulatory Technology: From Code is Law to Law is Code

De Filippi, P. & Hassan, S. (2016). Blockchain Technology as a Regulatory Technology: From Code is Law to Law is Code. First Monday Vol 21, N. 12, special issue on ‘Reclaiming the Internet with distributed architectures.

23 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2018

See all articles by Primavera De Filippi

Primavera De Filippi

Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas

Samer Hassan

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM); Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: December 5, 2016

Abstract

“Code is law” refers to the idea that, with the advent of digital technology, code has progressively established itself as the predominant way to regulate the behavior of Internet users. Yet, while computer code can enforce rules more efficiently than legal code, it also comes with a series of limitations, mostly because it is difficult to transpose the ambiguity and flexibility of legal rules into a formalized language which can be interpreted by a machine. With the advent of blockchain technology and associated smart contracts, code is assuming an even stronger role in regulating people’s interactions over the Internet, as many contractual transactions get transposed into smart contract code. In this paper, we describe the shift from the traditional notion of “code is law” (i.e. code having the effect of law) to the new conception of “law is code” (i.e. law being defined as code).

Keywords: blockchain, code is law, regulation by code, regulation technology, smart contracts

JEL Classification: K10, K12, K40

Suggested Citation

De Filippi, Primavera and Hassan, Samer, Blockchain Technology as a Regulatory Technology: From Code is Law to Law is Code (December 5, 2016). De Filippi, P. & Hassan, S. (2016). Blockchain Technology as a Regulatory Technology: From Code is Law to Law is Code. First Monday Vol 21, N. 12, special issue on ‘Reclaiming the Internet with distributed architectures., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3097430

Primavera De Filippi (Contact Author)

Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas ( email )

12 place du Pantheon
Paris cedex 06, 75231
France

Samer Hassan

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) ( email )

Facultad de Informática UCM
c/Profesor José García Santesmases, 9
Madrid, Madrid 28040
Spain

HOME PAGE: http://samer.hassan.name

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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