Michigan proposes laws to prosecute blockchain tampering

June 14, 2018
Chris Wheal

Michigan’s state legislature on Tuesday introduced two bills to classify tampering with data on a blockchain as a crime.

House Bills 6257 and 6258 were referred to the US state’s Committee on Law and Justice on June 12 and could set the precedent for further state legislatures recognising the growing influence of blockchain technology and the need for laws to protect those using it.

Michigan state legislature introduces blockchain bill: Shutterstock

Indeed, in March, Tennessee signed a bill that recognised the legal authority to use blockchain technology for smart contracts and electronic transactions.

Altering records punishable

Michigan’s Bill 6257 states that a person who alters a record made utilising distributed ledger technology and “falsely makes, alters, forges or counterfeits a public record [and many other named official documents] with intent to injure or defraud is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 14 years”.

Bill 6258 sets out to explain many of the terms new to state legislature, such as “cryptocurrency” and “distributed ledger”.

It remained highly unlikely, however, that blockchain ledgers could be tampered with in this way as the technology provides a permanent data record to all parties involved in a transaction – not just the counterparties, but also those blockchain miners verifying all transactions.

51% attack

Hypothetically, and under some extreme circumstances, it could be possible to stop transactions and verifications if a majority percentage of a network’s mining capacity is controlled by a group of miners with collective malicious intent. Such an event – although never yet seen on any blockchain network – is called a 51% attack.

However, as Investopedia admits: “They would almost certainly not be able to create new coins or alter old blocks, so a 51% attack would probably not destroy bitcoin or another blockchain-based currency outright, even if it proved highly damaging.”

Nevertheless, Michigan has recognised the potential of blockchain to change the fabric of industries that require highly-detailed ledger data and is proposing legislation that protects the new technology.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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