Blockchain and the Law

Proskauer authored a Practice Note published by Practical Law, which provides an overview of the use of blockchain and smart contracts in the supply chain context, including the legal issues, concerns, benefits and risks associated with its use. It includes, among other topics, information on key distinctions between public and private blockchains and important considerations regarding the use of blockchain consortia. The full text of our Practice Note is available here: Practice Note: Blockchain and Supply Chain Management
On November 16, the SEC announced that it settled charges against CarrierEQ, Inc. (“Airfox”) and Paragon Coin, Inc. (“Paragon”) for securities offering registration violations in connection with their respective initial coin offerings (“ICOs”). The settlement orders represent the first time the SEC has imposed civil penalties against ICO issuers solely for securities offering registration violations (i.e., without any allegations of fraud or misrepresentation) and notably, require Airfox and Paragon to make…
The SEC recently announced its settlement of charges against boxer Floyd Mayweather and producer DJ Khaled for their failure to disclose payments they received for promoting Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) on their social media accounts. The federal securities laws contain an “anti-touting provision,” which regulates paid promotions of securities offerings. Specifically, Section 17(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 makes it unlawful for a person to “publish, give publicity to, or circulate any notice…or communication which, though…
Uncertainty regarding the compatibility of blockchain technology and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has often been highlighted as a potential obstacle to the development and widespread implementation of blockchain systems involving personal data. To address tensions between blockchain technology and the GDPR, Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), the French data protection regulator, published an initial report analyzing certain fundamental questions regarding the interaction between blockchain technology and the GDPR’s…
Today, Ohio reportedly becomes the first US state to allow taxes to be paid in the form of bitcoin. Although the program, which is spearheaded by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, will not be available to individual taxpayers until a later time, businesses operating in Ohio are now able to register on OhioCrypto.com to pay 23 types of Ohio state taxes using bitcoin. In the Office of the Ohio Treasurer’s own words, this initiative represents…
On November 8, the SEC announced that it settled charges against Zachary Coburn, founder of EtherDelta, a type of non-custodial digital asset trading platform commonly referred to as a “decentralized exchange” or “DEX.” Coburn was charged with causing EtherDelta to operate as an unregistered securities exchange in violation of Section 5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) during the period between July 12, 2016 (the date Coburn launched EtherDelta’s website) and…
Recently at a conference in Dubai, Brian Quintenz, who is a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner, expressed his personal opinion (rather than the views of the CFTC) on the conceptual challenges in applying the CFTC’s regulatory oversight to, and fostering accountability for, smart contracts that reside on decentralized blockchains. In particular, Quintenz conveyed his belief that smart contract developers could potentially be held liable for aiding and abetting activity that violates CFTC regulations through…
On October 18, the SEC announced the launch of a new Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (the “FinHub”). The FinHub provides an online portal for market participants to engage with the SEC on a range of FinTech-related issues, including distributed ledger technology and digital assets. The FinHub contains a comprehensive repository of information relating to the SEC’s position on the issuance and transfer of blockchain-based digital assets, including links to key public statements…
This past summer, Ohio adopted legislation (SB220) that primarily provides for a legal safe harbor from certain data-breach related tort claims to covered entities that implement a specified cybersecurity program that “reasonably conforms” to a recognized cybersecurity framework for the protection of personal information and “restricted information” or comply with certain industry-specific federal privacy laws. This legislation is intended incentivize businesses to adopt heightened levels of cybersecurity through voluntary action. Beyond cybersecurity, SB220 also…
In a notable ruling, a Massachusetts district court declined to dismiss a complaint filed by the Commodity Future Trading Commission (“CFTC”) against an entity over an alleged fraudulent virtual currency offering, ruling that cryptocurrencies fall under the definition of “commodity” under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) and therefore may be duly regulated by the CFTC. (CFTC v. My Big Coin Pay, Inc., No. 18-10077 (D. Mass. Sept. 26, 2018)). Given that the CFTC has…