A few days ago, a senator from Illinois introduced an unworkable bill, requiring, among other things, the possibility of forcing transactions without private keys on blockchains if a court were to request it. A look at these surprising proposals.
An unlikely bill in Illinois
On February 9, Senator Robert Peters filed a bill for the least unlikely, in order to regulate cryptocurrencies. While the information had gone unnoticed for about ten days, it was relayed this weekend by legal expert Andrew Hinkes on his Twitter feed:
Illinois Senate Bill SB1887 would drive out blockchain node operators, miners, and validators, waste judicial resources, and confuse existing law in a quixotic attempt to protect Illinois consumers. Let’s examine the mess in a thread:
– Drew Hinkes (@propelforward) February 19, 2023
The particularity of this bill is that it would impose constraints that are simply impossible to implement for the actors securing the various blockchains. Among these surprising proposals, we find for example an obligation to be able to force a transaction without a private key :
“A blockchain network that processes a blockchain transaction originating in this state [Illinois, ed.], at any time after the effective date of this Act, shall process a court-ordered blockchain transaction without needing the private key associated with the digital property or smart contract. “
Robert Peters justifies his bill by the various frauds and scams our ecosystem can sometimes suffer from. In particular, he points to the fact that the main victims are often people from disadvantaged communities.
Despite the reality of these dangers, it should be noted that any investment is never without risk, and that it is important to follow a clear plan, only with funds that you can afford to lose.
$5,000 to $10,000 fine per day
Apart from the above demand, this is not the only unworkable demand proposed by Robert Peters. Similar requests are, among others, made to force transactions following a request from a third party, if the latter were to lose its private key.
If a court were to order a transaction, the actors targeted by this request would be subject to a fine ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 dollars per day that the request was not honoured. The senator seems to be ignoring the unworkability of his demands:
“The failure of a blockchain network to adopt reasonable procedures to comply with the [preceding] subsection shall not constitute a defense to an action pursuant to the subsection of this subdivision. “
Given the technological impossibility of implementing such injunctions, and the legal resources it would require, it is unlikely that such a bill would pass. But such a story is a reminder of the important work of educating people about our ecosystem that still needs to be done.