What is Blockchain?

Share your ideas and recommendations as a contributor to this public forum.

The next major planned event of this public forum series is a special focus day on common legal definitions, standard terms and model legal instruments during the Second Annual MIT/IAP Blockchain Legal Intensive in January. The Blockchain Legal Intensive is plannec to include in-person training and education, featuring a Continuing Legal Education seminar and an applied business/legal/technical integration workshop, as well as student-focused sessions for project-centered hands-on learing. To sign up for access to live online public sessions (the keynote, certain learning/skill building sessions, student presentations and other free/public sessions) and to receive relevant updates and invitations to other activities, click the "send me updates and invitations" option with your proposed legal definition contribution on our public intake form.

Legal Definition:

As state and federal legislation involving blockchains become more common, the question is arising: what is - or should be - the definition of blockchain, distributed ledger and smart contract for purposes of statute and regulation? Perhaps just as important is the legal definition of blockchain in contracts, licenses, formal standards and other legal or official materials. There are multiple views and drafts of potential definitions being circulated. This site offers a public forum for participatory and collaborative engagement on this question.

US House of Representative Roundtable Discussion

The law.MIT Research Team was honored to join with the Office of Congressman Schweikert, The Chamber of Digital Commerce, and The DC Blockchain Center for a constructive afternoon of off the record discourse on defining blockchains and smart contracts in federal legislation.

The above except provides an overview and discussion of key issues addressed at the in-person roundtable meeting in the US House of Representative on October 13th, 2016 and next steps following that session. We'd like to thank BreakingBanks Internet radio show host Brett Kind and Producer Rachel Morrissey for help getting the word out to the FinTech community about this public forum.

The embedded slides below reflect some of the content discussed at the event:

At the event we reviewed some of the stellar contributions resulting from a month-long public engagement process eliciting proposed definitions and relevant considerations, kicked off at the MIT Media Lab on September 13th. Like an open source code project, the more thoughtful contributions we can attract, the better our high quality, reliable, and “bug-free” legislative code will be. Contribute your ideas for blockchain and/or smart contract definitions here

The words blockchain, distributed ledger and smart contracts are not currently used in federal law, and through collaboration and crowdsourced submissions, we aim to get as close as we can to "workable” definitions. We will be hosting this in-person event in a subcommittee room of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee with participants joining in online as well. To identify the key issues and options, we’ll structure the discussion into three roundtable sessions, on business, legal and technical aspects. Each roundtable session will be allotted an hour for open dialogue and commence with a small panel of experts to anchor the discussion in key business, legal and technical dimensions of the topic.

Date & Time:

Thursday, October 13, 2016
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Add to Calendar


Rayburn House Office Building 2325
Washington, DC 20515
View Map

Tentative Schedule:
* Business Segment: 1:00pm -2:00pm
* Legal Segment: 2:00pm - 3:00pm
* Technical Segment: 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Relevant Links: