Blockchain and the Judiciary


In Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World, Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott discuss the potential for blockchain in changing our world. Blockchain is a list of records (blocks) that are linked using cryptography. The list of records are permanent, open, and time stamped. The records are linked using algorithms that are almost impossible to break.

Don and Alex Tapscott write that blockchain could be used to transform our judiciary. For example, they cite the concept of CrowdJury. “CrowdJury looks to transform the justice system by putting several judicial processes online, using both crowdsourcing and the blockchain, including filing a charge or complaint, gathering and vetting of evidence, engaging citizens in open trials online and as online jurors, and issuing a verdict.” The analysis and decision making would be crowdsourced, which could lead to a more accurate outcome in a shorter time frame.

In the CrowdJury process, the process would begin by someone making a report online and inviting potential witnesses to provide evidence. The original complaint and the evidence would be cryptographically stored on the blockchain to ensure that it remained on record and was not tampered with. If the accused proceeded to a trial, then the trial and all the evidence would be broadcasted online in an open-court like model. The decision-making would then be made by a mass jury.

Although CrowdJury sounds problematic in many ways, I think blockchain could still be used in our current system to safely store information. Blockchain could be a safe way to create and maintain electronic court files and store evidence and exhibits.

(Originally posted on Views are my own and do not represent the views of any organization.)