The Michigan state legislature introduced two separate bills which will see the modification of blockchain data as a crime according to House Bills 6257 and 6258, which were submitted to the US legislative tracking service, Legiscan, on June 12th, 2018.
Bill 6257 declares any person who “falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits a public record” with the intention to “injure or defraud another person” could face prosecution for a felony “punishable by imprisonment for not more than 14 years.”
Bill 6258 is an amendment to already existing Michigan penal code that will now include definitions of distributed ledger technology.
The Bill, which already contains legislation regarding cryptocurrency – defined as “digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, and that operates independently of a central bank” – has been referred to the Committee on Law and Justice.
Essentially, this law would make it illegal to alter a blockchain record, although no definitive examples of how such a law would be enforced.
These bills come on the heels of another piece of legislation that implements comparable changes for crimes that involve credit cards. Much like the previous Bills, this also encompasses an already existing definition to cover new technology.
If both Bills pass, they will take effect 90 days after being enacted into law.
As things stand, the state of Michigan exercises no regulation that could be considered exclusive to cryptocurrencies, although Michigan State Attorney General, Bill Schuette, had issued a consumer alert by way of a piece published on the michigan.gov website which highlighted the risks of virtual currency.
We’ve recently seen the state of Tennessee pass legislation that recognized the legal right to utilize blockchain technology and smart contracts for electronic transactions.
The Tennessee bill also provided a stipulation that “protects ownership rights of certain information secured by blockchain technology.”
While many authorities still believe that blockchain technology will take some time to integrate into the mainstream, there are definite signs that such inroads are being made. States, such as Michigan and Tennessee, are changing their legislation – a sign that, while the technology hasn’t been wholly embraced yet, preparations are being made for the day when it cannot be ignored any longer.