BLOCKCHAIN AND LEGAL
In recent years, there has been an exponential growth of legal actors and lawyers’ interest in the applications that blockchain technology can perform in the legal sector.
Today, blockchain technology is mainly used in the financial sector, but it lends itself to many other applications.
WHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN?
The blockchain is a distributed digital ledger, with a linear form, which collects all transactions relating to a tangible or intangible asset. The term ‘transaction’ refers to the way in which information is entered into the blockchain. The information entered is not ‘certified’ by a centralized authority, but its immutability is ensured through the ‘hash’ – a string of alphanumeric code that constitutes a kind of unique digital fingerprint – affixed to it. Information is placed in this form within blocks, which are linked together to form a chain (hence the term blockchain), which keeps track of every transaction in the system forever. The blockchain is thus a transparent and decentralized system.
Dedit.io is our cross-blockchain notarization platform which will enable you to securely certify, sign and share your most important documents, providing them with a certain date, digital signature, proof of authorship and immutability over time. But what can you actually do with Dedit.io?
DIGITAL DOCUMENT STORAGE
In the near future, blockchain could be applied to digital document storage. Any tax, accounting and the tax-relevant document must be stored for the period prescribed by law, but also to ensure its legal value over time.
The blockchain uses asymmetric cryptography, which guarantees data protection. This process uses a pair of related keys – a public key and a private key – to encrypt and decrypt a document and protect it from unauthorized access or use. Thus, you are assured that all digital data passing on the blockchain is intact and unchangeable.
Personal data is any information relating to an identified or identifiable living person. The various pieces of information which, when collected together, can lead to the identification of a particular person, therefore also constitute personal data.
What is meant by personal data?
- first and last name;
- home address;
- e-mail address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org;
- identity card number;
- location data (e.g. location on a mobile phone);
- an Internet Protocol (IP) address;
- a cookie ID;
- the advertising ID of your phone;
- data stored in a hospital or by a doctor, which may be a symbol that uniquely identifies a person.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union protects personal data irrespective of the technology used to process such data. It is therefore said to be technology-neutral and applies to both automated and manual processing, as long as the data are organized according to predefined criteria. Moreover, it does not matter how these are stored: in a computer system, via video surveillance or on paper; in all these cases, personal data are subject to the protection obligations set out in the regulation.
The combination of Blockchain and GDPR could offer interesting opportunities, for example from the point of view of so-called ‘security by design’ by ensuring pseudonymization (decoupling data from individual identity) and data minimization (sharing only the absolutely necessary data points). This is because in a Blockchain, data protection is ensured by:
- the public key of the sender of the transaction;
- the public key of the recipient of the transaction;
- a cryptographic hash of the content of the transaction;
- the date and time of the transaction.
More and more often we are confronted with cases of plagiarism, especially of digital works, which authors have shared on the web with a consequent increase in their notoriety, only to be reused on the other side of the world for commercial purposes, to their own detriment. How to protect one’s own content?
As already discussed, since March 2019 with the Italian “Simplifications” Decree, the registration of documentation through the blockchain produces the effects of legally valid and recognized registration. Also thanks to this intervention of the legislator, the number of lawyers who are studying the legal applications of blockchain has increased exponentially, so much so that a new profession is emerging: that of the “smart lawyer”. As a result, businesses and individuals will be able to take advantage of the services and expertise in such technologies of professionals and law firms.
Blockchain, in the area of copyright/property rights, could make a big contribution. Nowadays in Italy, copyright protection relies on a series of public physical registers, mainly kept at S.I.A.E. (Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori). But with blockchain, any artist can register his or her work without the need for intermediaries. In fact, the author can register his unpublished work in a blockchain transaction and thus also provide proof of authorship of the work, to be enforced against third parties who want to illegally take possession of it. S.I.A.E. itself, in fact, is exploring the opportunities that this technology can offer, aware that it is an interesting tool to support provenance for tracking the history of artworks, intellectual property and their management, without excluding the verification of authenticity.
In the context of criminal proceedings, jurisprudence considers that the copy of a digital document (e.g. video file, audio file, etc.) must be extracted in such a way as to ensure its identity with the original and its immodifiability.
In accordance with the principles that are increasingly consolidated with reference to the forensic acquisition of computer evidence, an “image copy” should be created that reproduces the duplicate data in the same conditions as it was in at the time of its acquisition.
On the basis of these principles, copies of audio files of telephone interceptions, for example, accompanied by the relative ‘hash codes’ have been considered regularly acquired in criminal proceedings.
The blockchain is thus able to certify the input chronology of the data it stores as its data is associated with the date (the hour, the minute and the second) on which it was received.