The First in the Blockchain Lawyer Series
In 2017, blockchain exploded onto the world’s consciousness as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies skyrocketed in price. People became wealthy overnight. Others became wealthy through trading cryptocurrencies. This was followed by ICOs and utility token being launched and sold all over the world, some being launched in direct defiance of securities laws. Fraud and speculation was rampant. As expected, the SEC and other regulators have responded and have cracked down on the launch of ICOs and other cryptocurrencies. In step, the price of cryptocurrencies has plummeted.
While securities law practice has seemed to dominate the activity in the blockchain space, new opportunities for lawyers to contribute to this space are starting to emerge. One such area is digital identity. The internet has become one of the main ways people, on a regular basis, use various credentials to prove who they are. Whether it’s banking, shopping, or even sending email, people rely heavily on centralized systems held by Google, Amazon, Paypal and others, to confirm that they are interacting with an authentic person on the other side. The digital identity space is ripe for a tool like blockchain to help people control their own identity in a secure, but decentralized way.
One organization leading the charge in this effort is Sovrin. Sovrin is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit currently implementing a global public utility on a blockchain network for digital identity. Sovrin wants to “bring the trust, personal control, and ease-of-use of analog IDs – like driver’s licenses and ID cards – to the Internet” through establishing standards for “self-sovereign identity.” Self-sovereign identity on blockchain would provide digital identity that does not depend on a central authority and cannot be taken away.
Lawyers and other professionals are currently involved in helping Sovrin’s cause through its global policy working group. This working group was established to help Sovrin identify and establish legal pathways through the complicated network of identity systems around the globe. It’s a monumental task that has endless potential. Blockchain law practice is starting to mean much more than securities law practice.