Wyoming has passed more than a dozen blockchain-related bills, and more laws have been proposed, illustrating the growing impact of Wyoming’s Blockchain Task Force. It has also hosted its second annual blockchain hackathon, which featured Jesse Powell, founder of Kraken.
In an interview with Government Technology, Caitlin Long, a member of Wyoming’s Blockchain taskforce, said the state saw an uptick of business registrations in the wake of its legislative approach to blockchain. An exact number of registered blockchain businesses cannot be determined because the state does not require business registrants to cite their industry, but the impact of the laws is clear.
One compelling example of Wyoming’s legal focus is a proposed bill that defines code as free speech. Specifically, this law would ensure that software developers can avoid legal trouble if someone takes their code and uses it to perform illegal activities.
“Most developers in open-source projects use an avatar or a pseudonym to conceal their identity for precisely this reason: They don’t want to get sued, and especially criminally sued just for having written a line of code that someone else someday might misuse,” Long said.
For all of Wyoming’s business and legal talk, the state and its players are not completely divorced from practical solutions based on blockchain. Indeed, blockchain’s potential use in government is what attracted Long in the first place. For more than 20 years, Long was on Wall Street, which, she argues, lacks “true honesty” in its ledgers. She eventually worked with the Delaware Blockchain Initiative to try to solve this type of issue.
“Wall Street’s bookkeeping systems are not accurate, and it results in overissue of securities, and that is a form of theft, in my mind,” Long said.
Then there’s the case of Teton County and its land-record blockchain. The blockchain was created by Medici Land Governance. Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle explained that during the 1994-1996 period, her office started handling land records differently. The office began assigning a unique 14-digit number to every parcel of land. Any transaction related to a specific parcel — whether a deed, a mortgage, or something else — was then linked to the parcel based on the 14-digit number. All of those records are on the blockchain.
On the Teton County website, one can view parts of the blockchain by exploring the “Scanned Documents” section of the site or by clicking on parcels of land on the site’s GIS ownership maps. Daigle said there are limitations to this blockchain. the county office can’t transfer ownership or perform financial transactions on the blockchain. It’s also unclear how land records that precede the 1994-1996 period can be added to the chain, given that those historical transactions lack the unique assigned numbers for the parcels. But Daigle believes it’s a successful project on the whole and that other Wyoming counties, once they advance their technological capabilities and electronic records, may follow suit.