Government Legal and IP News

Government Accountability Office makes blockchain policy recommendations

blockchain policy

Last week the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on blockchain targeted at Congress. It made four policy recommendations relating to standards, oversight, education and use cases.

On standards, the report identified the numerous existing standard setting initiatives. Yet it suggests that policymakers identify standards across specific industries. For those not familiar, the Global Blockchain Business Council annually updates the status of blockchain standards. The GAO pinpointed a high priority focus area as blockchain interoperability.

Regarding oversight, the report recommends that policymakers provide “timely clarity to promote safety and soundness, consumer protection, and compliance.” It’s widely known that there’s an ongoing debate between the SEC and the cryptocurrency sector about what is deemed lawful. However, the GAO did not refer to any particular agencies. The report takes the common position that there’s a balance between too much oversight, which could hamper innovation, and too little, which results in consumer protection issues.

Earlier this month, President Biden signed an executive order on digital assets, which may help to accelerate this process.

It was suggested that educational materials be developed so that users and regulators can understand applications beyond existing financial ones. One commentator observed that there’s considerable introductory material but too few advanced ones.

Turning to use cases, the report cites applications where blockchain could add transparency, trust and traceability. But it doesn’t make too many specific recommendations other than suggesting that blockchain might be considered when legacy systems are being improved or replaced.

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