Tech 25 January 2019

Ed Drake

Italian Senate approves amendment to include blockchain terms in law

The Italian senate has approved amendments to legislation which introduces blockchain terms into existing laws, marking the first significant steps from the government towards regulation for the blockchain sector, Milano Finanza reported.

It comes as the latest move from the Italian government in the blockchain sector, after committing to international blockchain partnerships and increasing investment in blockchain in 2018.

Known as ‘Decreto semplificazioni,’ the amendment was passed in committee by Constitutional Affairs and Public Works, and has been interpreted in local media reports as a step towards a broader system of regulation for the industry.

The amendment introduces definitions for a number of key blockchain terms, including “smart contracts” and “distributed ledger technology.” The text also allows blockchain data to legally validate registered documents, which could pave the way for greater use of distributed ledger technology in commercial applications.

Fulvio Sarzana, a blockchain researcher at the Ministry for Economic Development, said in a translation of comments that the law would give legal effect to blockchain transactions and smart contracts.

He noted, “[The amendment creates] the possibility of giving a legal value to a transaction that exploits a distributed electronic and computerized ledger, without passing through notaries or central certification bodies… The rules on smart contracts give a contract executed automatically by an IT program the legal value of a normal written and signed contract.”

The amendment comes as the latest move from the Italian government, after it joined with seven other southern European states to commit to greater development of blockchain and applications of the technology in December.

Back in September, Italy became the 27th signatory to the European Blockchain Partnership, a body which aims to coordinate development and implementation efforts, including security and privacy, on a cross-border basis.

The amendment comes at a time of increasing emphasis on blockchain and regulation across European governments, with many keen to introduce or modify their regulatory environment to control the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors.

The decree now needs two further approvals, one from the Chamber of Deputies and a second from the Senate, before it can pass into law. However, having cleared the crucial committee stage, the amendments now look to have a significant chance of becoming law.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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