Gikii 2019- Closing the circle: in Libra we trust?

Alexandra and Valeria participated at Gikii 2019 organised at Queen Mary University of London on 9-10 September 2019.

Valeria focused on the issues raised by Libra’s promise to create a decentralized and permissionless financial ecosystem open to anyone. Alexandra addressed the dystopic future of having a decentralized and portable digital identity standard provided by Facebook.

Photo credits: Mike Dunford (@questauthority)

The presentation can be found online here

Andres Guadamuz: “All watched over by machines of loving grace: A critical look at smart contracts”

Blockchain&Society Policy Research Lab Lunchtime talk

The Lab organised another iteration of the Lunchtime talks at the Institute for Information Law (IViR) on 6 September 2019.

Andres Guadamuz presented on the topic of his recently published paper entitled “All watched over by machines of loving grace: A critical look at smart contracts”.

Smart contracts are coded parameters written into an immutable distributed ledger called a blockchain. There has been increasing legal interest in the application of these self-executing programs to conduct transactions. Most of the scholarly and practical analysis so far has been taken the claims of this technology being akin to a contract at face value, with legal analysis of contract formation, performance, and enforcement at the forefront of the debate. This article discusses that while smart contracts may pose some interesting legal questions, most of these are irrelevant, and smart contracts should be understood almost strictly from a technical perspective, and that any legal response is entirely dependent on the technical capabilities of the smart contract. The article proposes that smart contracts are not contracts for all practical purposes.

Dr Andres Guadamuz is a Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Sussex and the Editor in Chief of the Journal of World Intellectual Property. His main research areas are on digital copyright, open licensing, software protection, cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and complexity. Andres has published two books, the most recent one of which is “Networks, Complexity and Internet Regulation”, and he regularly blogs at He has acted as an international consultant for the World Intellectual Property Organization, and since 2005, he has been involved with Creative Commons Scotland (while lecturer at University of Edinburgh and Associate Director of the SCRIPT Centre), Costa Rica and now the UK.

The presentation slides are available online.

TILTing 2019 – exploring the journey of crypto-assets across the EU financial legal framework

At TILTing 2019 the Lab presented a study on the legal instruments that are, as of today, applicable to blockchain-based digital assets under European law, and the relative enforcement challenges. The broader question to be tackled is whether and how regulators deal with such challenges, and what are the interests at stake.

Courts and Internet Governance – events – Maastricht University

Catalina Goanta of Maastricht University organized an excellent workshop on Courts and Internet Governance, focusing on the intersection of court system and decentralized technologies.

Balazs presented his chapter co-authored with Alexandra on the logics of decentralization.

This conference builds on an initial exploration of the topic of decentralization held at the Faculty of Law at Oxford University in March 2019. The event takes the overarching theme of Internet governance, as the vast majority of the data-related issues as illustrated above has been shaped by the increased interconnectivity, use and architecture behind the Internet. The first panel tackle Internet governance from the perspective of the legal certainty necessary for stable markets and societies. The second and third panel zoom into court activity with respect to issues related big data collected, stored or linked online, as well as the circumstances underlying the lack of more litigation relating to blockchain-related wrongs.

Source: Courts and Internet Governance – events – Maastricht University

The Lab in the Dutch parliament

The dutch parliament organized a workshop on blockchain tech. Merloes Pop, a member of our Advisory Board represented the Lab.

Marloes Pomp, the Lab …

The debate quickly focused on the issue of legal and institutional conditions of blockchain adoption. Sadly, it was not clear for many, what kind of changes are desirable, or necessary for the desired change.

… fake marble, true scientists and politicians …

We, luckily have some ideas. Blockcain infrastructure, if we stop looking at it as a decentralized source of ultimate disruption may actually be a pretty good vehicle to export European jurisdiction and power to the developing world. This is not the libertarian dream, but rather a distopian one, unless you believe that using digital technologies to project power may actually be beneficial. Keep tuned.

and fancy chandeliers.

The Lab at Tilting 2019!

Join us Friday afternoon at our “To Decentralize Everything, Hash Here: Blockchains and Information Law” panel at Tilting Perspectives 2019 conference

Blockchain is the latest technological hype to promise disruptive decentralization, especially as it relates to information goods and services. While one of the goals of decentralized technologies is to operate without the need to adhere to existing legal systems, blockchains face challenges of compatibility with these systems so as to facilitate wider adoption. This panel examines these challenges from the perspective of information law, focusing on their treatment under the legal regimes of copyright, data protection and competition. Panelsts will be Balazs Bodo, Alexandra Giannopoulou, Valeria Ferrari, Daniel Gervais and Jurgen Goossens

Source: Program for Friday, May 17th

The Lab has been profiled by the EU Research & Innovation magazine of the European Commission

Blockchain solutions have been proposed to restrict the power of these big middlemen. But Dr Bodo warns that these could struggle to translate the complexity of the old system into the inflexible logic of computer programming, without introducing new power injustices.‘The question is not blockchain per se – blockchain is a wonderful technology,’ he continued. But, he says, there is an open question about what happens when blockchain challenges the power of the law and the power of existing institutions.

Source: Blockchain could democratise banking, music – but at what cost? | Horizon: the EU Research & Innovation magazine | European Commission

CPDP 2019: Blockchain technology and the GDPR: The beginning of a beautiful privacy whac-a-mole?

The video of our CPDP panel is now up!

Watch video

Organised by Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab, Institute for Information Law, UvA

Chair Balazs Bodo, Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab, Institute for Information Law, UvA (NL)

Moderator: Mireille Hildebrandt, VUB-LSTS (BE)

Speakers: Michèle Finck, Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition (DE); David Ci- liberti, DG JUST (EU); Alexandra Giannopoulou, Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab, Institute for Information Law, UvA (NL); George Danezis, UCL (UK); Konstantinos Stylianou, University of Leeds (UK)

Individual user control of data has become a central issue in the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), creating a more demanding data protection framework for involved actors, all while coming in conflict with fundamental characteristics of blockchains. Thus, the difficulty lies in designing a system without compromising core values of both privacy regulation on the one hand and blockchain technology on the other. Given the right incentives there is no doubt GDPR compliant distributed ledgers can, and will be designed. The real question is what happens if there is persistent market/social/political interest in those blockchain implementations which do not care for, or are unable to achieve GDPR compliance.

Considering the interdisciplinary nature of the main question, the proposed panel consists of invited experts selected to cover various privacy-related fields including law and computer science.

• What are the main points of friction between blockchains and the GDPR?

• What are the technological privacy enhancing mechanisms that could apply?

• What are the appropriate and necessary conciliations for the creation of privacy-preserving blockchains in accordance with data protection regulation?

• Is there a market for non-compliance that blockchain technologies are best suited to serve?