Italian Lawmakers Propose Incremental Steps to Legalizing Blockchain

Six members of the Italian Senate have proposed a regulation to allow blockchain technology to be used as a state-sanctioned method of verification. The proposal would be included as a provision in a law proposed in December 2018, whose aim is “support and simplification of businesses and public administration.”

According to the regulation, distributed ledgers and smart contracts could eventually serve as legally sanctioned electronic signatures in Italy, in accordance with the EU regulation 910/2014, which deals with “electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal [EU] market.”

The proposed blockchain regulation defines both “technologies based on distributed ledgers” and “smart contracts.” Speaking on the legal propensity of smart contracts, for instance, the regulation states that “smart contracts satisfy the requirement of a written form following the [consent] of interested parties.”

The draft regulation allots 90 days to the Agency of Digital Italy to outline technical standards that digital ledgers “must posses” in order to be treated as legally binding.

5-Star Law

It is noteworthy that all six of the regulation’s sponsors are members of the 5-Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle or M5S), a fairly new political party that has rapidly gained power in Italy’s choppy political climate.

M5S, founded innocuously enough by outspoken comedian Beppe Grillo ten years ago, came to power in recent years under a broadly anti-establishment and anti-corruption banner. The new party has netted some important wins, recently gaining the mayorships of Rome and Turin.

A move toward blockchain seems consonant with the party’s tendency to try radical measures, such as the direct democracy tactics they have employed within the party to construct policies.

Italy is now almost completely dominated politically by anti-establishment sentiment, with the M5S’s opposite being the League (Lega) - formerly the Northern League - which is broadly anti-establishment, specifically anti-immigration, and “Eurosceptic” (that is, wary of further financial and legal integration into the European union.)