Tag Archives: Blockchain

Alan Cohn Featured on the Future Tech Podcast

Alan Cohn was recently featured on the Future Tech Podcast. In an interview with Richard Jacobs, Editor of Crypto News Insider and Organizer & Host of the Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Blockchain Super Conference 2018, Alan discusses the recent regulatory changes and guidance related to cryptocurrency such as the recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Investigative Report on the … Continue Reading

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency: The Emerging Regulatory Framework

This summer, US and international regulators have brought enforcement actions, issued guidance and explanatory documents, and sharpened previously-taken positions regarding regulation of cryptocurrency and crypto-tokens under the anti-money laundering, derivatives, securities, and tax laws. These actions provide a better sense of the way in which US regulators will approach the blockchain and digital asset space … Continue Reading

Alan Cohn Quoted on the Recent Blockchain Regulatory Guidance

The Street quoted Alan Cohn  in an article on August 20 titled “How Federal Regulators Are Playing Catch-Up With Bitcoin Craze.” The article looks at the most recent enforcement actions and regulatory guidance from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission … Continue Reading

Significant FinCEN Action Against BTC-e, Implications for Virtual Currency Exchangers

On July 26, 2017, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the US Department of the Treasury assessed a civil monetary penalty of $110,003,314 against Canton Business Corporation (BTC-e), one of the largest virtual currency exchanges by volume in the world, and a $12,000,000 penalty against Alexander Vinnik, a Russian national who allegedly controlled, directed, and … Continue Reading

SEC Begins Offering Guidance on Initial Coin Offerings

On July 25, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued its first guidance on how it will interpret token issuances or “Initial Coin Offerings” (ICOs) under relevant securities laws. The headlines—“SEC Finds DAO Tokens are Securities”—come from Release No. 81207, “Report of Investigation Pursuant to Section 21(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934: … Continue Reading

SEC Weighs in on the Distributed Autonomous Organization’s Tokens

The SEC announced yesterday that “offers and sales of digital assets by ‘virtual’ organizations are subject to the requirements of the federal securities laws.”  Although not coming as a surprise, the SEC’s announcement affirms that companies seeking to involve US investors in an initial coin offering (ICO) must register offers and sales with the SEC … Continue Reading

IEEE Standard Association’s Blockchain Podcast Features Alan Cohn

Alan Cohn was recently featured on IEEE Standards Association’s Blockchain Podcast Series.  In an interview with Maria Palombini, Director, Emerging Communities & Opportunities Development, Alan and Maria discuss the legal issues surrounding blockchain smart contracts. In particular, Alan opines on why government agencies find blockchain technology promising, whether or not smart contracts are legally binding, and what blockchain-based smart … Continue Reading

Three ways to indemnify your business (or your client’s business) from smart contract risks

This post builds on our previous exploration of indemnification for smart contract risks.  Today, we suggest three tools to address these risks:  (1) cybersecurity insurance policies, (2) indemnification agreements with outside vendors, and (3) “make whole” agreements among the smart contract parties themselves.  Collectively speaking, insurers, vendors, and other contract parties can provide the best … Continue Reading

Implications of S. 1241, the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017

Congress has become increasingly interested in the current state of knowledge about potential links between terrorist financing and money laundering.  In the House of Representatives, the Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance held a hearing on June 8, 2017, titled “Virtual Currency: Financial Innovation and National Security Implications.”  In the Senate, Senator … Continue Reading

My smart contract just ate $14 million—now what? Re-thinking indemnification for smart contract risks.

A Canadian digital currency exchange (QuadrigaCX) reported recently that a malfunction in a smart contract is responsible for a $14 million dollar loss of the cryptocurrency ether.  You can read more about the company’s technical explanation here, but the upshot is that a software upgrade performed by the company had an error in the code that … Continue Reading

Finding Resiliency in Microgrids

This is the fifth and final in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. We have discussed the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts under ESIGN and UETA and a few promising smart contract … Continue Reading

Rethinking the Energy Industry with Smart Meters

This is the forth in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. We previously discussed the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts under ESIGN and UETA and the application of blockchain-based smart contracts for … Continue Reading

New Models of Insurance: Parametric Insurance

This is the third in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. We previously discussed the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts under ESIGN and UETA and the application of blockchain-based smart contracts for … Continue Reading

Efficiency Gains in the Insurance Industry

This is the second in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. We previously discussed the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts under ESIGN and UETA and will now look at the application of … Continue Reading

The Enforceability of Smart Contracts

This is the first in a series of posts that breaks down our article, “Smart After All: Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Parametric Insurance, and Smart Energy Grids,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review. First, we will discuss the enforceability of blockchain-based smart contracts followed by four use cases: simple insurance contracts, parametric insurance, smart … Continue Reading

Best Practices for Limiting Liability Arising from Smart Contract Vulnerabilities

It is no secret that smart contracts have vulnerabilities.  Today’s post suggests a mix of best practices to limit potential liabilities that may arise when vulnerabilities interfere with smart contract performance. But first, some background:  One recent survey of 19,366 Ethereum-based contracts found vulnerabilities in 45% of them.  Perhaps the most publicized example of a … Continue Reading

Tips for Drafting Arbitration Clauses in Smart Contracts

We have suggested previously that arbitration may be a preferable alternative to court for smart contract disputes to (i) ensure a knowledgeable decision-maker handles the dispute, (ii) protect proprietary information, (iii) gain flexibility in scheduling and procedures, and (iv) pre-select the right forum.  Of course, arbitration doesn’t happen on its own – it typically requires … Continue Reading

Tax Coalition Forms to Address Digital Asset Uncertainty

The Chamber of Digital Commerce and Steptoe & Johnson LLP today announce the formation of the Digital Assets Tax Policy Coalition, a Washington, DC-based coalition created to help develop effective and efficient tax policies for the growing virtual currency markets.  The move comes in response to a lack of recent guidance from the Internal Revenue … Continue Reading

Four Reasons to Put an Arbitration Clause in Your Company’s Smart Contracts

Many in the blockchain industry expect smart contracts to enjoy significant (perhaps exponential) growth in real-world applications beginning this year.  This was the general consensus at the industry’s first ever Smart Contract Symposium in New York City this past December.  More than 250 leaders in blockchain, finance, law, and other industries gathered at the Microsoft … Continue Reading

Steptoe joins the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC)

The Bitfury Group, the leading global full-service Blockchain technology company, in conjunction with Steptoe & Johnson LLP, issued a press release today that Steptoe will serve as the legal services partner of the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC). Jason Weinstein was also listed as one of the 32 founding members of the GBBC, which was launched around … Continue Reading

Alan Cohn on Blockchain in 2017

CoinDesk quoted Alan Cohn in a December 30 article titled “A Slow Awakening: 2016 in US Blockchain Policy.” In the article, which discusses blockchain regulatory developments of the past year and what may lie ahead in 2017, Alan Cohn says: “If 2016 was the year that the blockchain burst into public view, 2017 is the year that … Continue Reading

Insurance with Assurance

In the last installment of our five-part blockchain series, we focus on the insurance industry.  Insurance and reinsurance companies are actively exploring and developing applications for blockchain technology.  And for good reason – distributed ledger technology has the potential to revolutionize the way insurance companies operate and engage with their policyholders and to open a … Continue Reading

Taking off on the Blockchain

In this fourth installment of our five-part series highlighting the legal issues presented by blockchain, we’ll consider application to the aviation industry. Blockchain has the potential to increase airlines’ profitability by lowering transaction costs as well as improving efficiency and transparency, while simultaneously enhancing customer experiences. As we discussed in the post “Taking Control of … Continue Reading
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