Wednesday, May 25, 2016

State Bar of California declines comment on emerging “distributed autonomous organizations” but the issue remains

The State Bar of California is not yet ready to say anything, one way or another, on the legality and utility of “distributed autonomous organizations” (DAOs), collections of software code that digitally enable institutions that can run themselves on the Internet and the blockchain, without human intervention or control.

Asked about the legal status of these aggregations of code that can enter into “smart contracts” that executive themselves online, Laura Ernde, Communications Director at the California State Bar, told Etopia News that “The State Bar doesn’t have anyone on staff who could comment for your story.”

In an article in the current edition of the Economist, in an article entitled “The DAO of accrue,” the author discusses the DAO created by Ethereum and already capitalized with $150 million in “ether” crypto-currency as an automated venture capital fund.

Diving even deeper, the American Banker just ran an article entitled “The DAO Might Be Groundbreaking, But Is It Legal?,” by Tanaya Macheel, discussing the legality of the DAO.

Many DAOs are bound to be created within the jurisdictional confines of the State of California, and California state law will soon be replete with case law and possibly statutory regulation on the subject.  The sooner the legal issues raised by the disruptive technologies associated with the blockchain, “smart contracts,” and DAOs are surfaced and at least tentatively resolved the better (i.e. faster and smoother) it will be for the emerging Blockchain Revolution to take place.

Members of the California State Bar, and everyone else interested in the future of economics and finance in the 21st century, can start to get up-to-speed on these subjects by visiting the links included in this article and reading the material presented there.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Liddell, Silva, and Hougo organize to put democracy on a sounder technological footing

In the 1990s, as the Internet was first emerging as a powerful tool, I proposed using it to democratize politics by letting ordinary citizens use it to register to vote, sign initiative, referendum, recall, and in lieu petitions, and vote, all online.  You can access a voluminous record of my efforts in this regard here.

Flash forward 20 years to 2016, and It’s now legal to register to vote online in California.  Just go here, provide some of your private information (driver’s licence number, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security number), and the DMV will transfer a copy of your digitized signature from its records to the Secretary of State’s office and voter database and you’ll be registered to vote in California.

Now, with the Internet infinitely more central to our economy and society than it was in the 1990s, campaigns are emerging in California to expand the range of political acts that can be transacted online beyond mere voter registration to encompass online signature-gathering on official initiative, referendum, and recall petitions and, in the case of Von Hougo’s campaign for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer, to provide registered voters with a direct digital means of determining their new U.S. Senator's votes on bills before the United States Senate.

Mike Liddell, a chiropractor from Placerville, and his collaborator Gabriel Silva, have organized a campaign for CIRRRA, the “California Initiative, Referendum and Recall Reform Act of 2016,” which would allow registered California voters, including those who’ve already used the Internet to register online to vote, to use the Internet to add their official signature to official documents qualifying initiatives, referendums, and recalls for subsequent electoral ballots.

You can find out more about the CIRRRA campaign here.

You can learn more about the efforts of Hougo, a science teacher at Arroyo Seco Junior High in Santa Clarita, to get elected to the U.S. Senate on a platform centered on his pledge to vote on bills according to the will of ordinary voters as expressed through a secure and easily-accessible web portal, using their desktop, laptop, and smartphone computers and the Internet, here.  Hougo calls this “Democracy 2.0.”

Friday, May 13, 2016

DocuSign and Visa partner with each other and the blockchain to digitize the car leasing process

Using the Bitcoin blockchain as a distributed ledger, DocuSign (“the trusted global leader in Digital Transaction Management and eSignature,” according to its press release here) has partnered with Visa (“the trusted global leader in the payment industry,” according to the same press release) to completely digitize and move online the process of leasing a car, a process and experience previously notable for its complexity.

According to this press release:

The DocuSign proof-of-concept app, embedded into the dashboard of a connected car prototype developed by Visa for car-based commerce, simplifies the process of leasing or buying a car by automating all the steps into a seamless, completely secure electronic environment. The technology enables the car to be a smart asset among the Internet of Things (IoT) with the ability to manage services like auto insurance, lease payments and even tolls and parking. The proof-of-concept was developed using the blockchain and brings DocuSign's Digital Transaction Management (DTM) platform, eSignature solution and APIs together with the Visa Token Service for secure payment processing.

"Leasing a new sports car – or any car for that matter – should be fun and exciting, but lengthy paperwork and arduous processes often diminish the experience," said Ron Hirson, Head of Product, DocuSign. "This proof-of-concept makes it easier and faster for customers to get out the door in their new car by bringing together smart contracts and payments so that customers can electronically sign all pertinent documents and seamlessly pay in one fully digital experience."

"We see a future where car commerce goes far beyond fuel pumps and drive-thrus, becoming a fully automated experience among the Internet of Things," said Jim McCarthy, Executive Vice President, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, Visa. "Anything you buy from your car, or for your car, can be enabled by automatic payments: whether it's a lease payment, insurance or anything governed by a contract. Tolls, maintenance services, music downloads, parking and even charges from the DMV could all be automated through a Visa token that is securely stored in your car," said McCarthy.

"When a customer, partner or investor wants to partner with us to create new, game-changing innovation, we're thrilled," said Keith Krach, Chairman & CEO of DocuSign. "Visa is the trusted global leader in the payment industry, and is relied upon by millions of merchants and billions of consumers around the world. DocuSign is the trusted global leader in Digital Transaction Management and eSignature. Together, our Labs teams are the perfect partners to help consumers and companies fast-forward their journey to becoming fully digital."

The proof-of-concept was developed in collaboration with DocuSign Labs, which unites talent from DocuSign's innovation hubs around the world, together with strategic partners such as Visa, to improve the way technology enables everyday transactions to be 100 percent digital and keep life and business moving forward. Visa is a DocuSign customer and strategic investor, helping fuel DocuSign's rapid expansion to new countries, companies and customers.

For more on the app, view the demo video or read the blog post For more information on DocuSign, visit For more information on Visa, visit

To read about the role the Bitcoin blockchain plays in this process, click here.