Blockchain and the Law

2 ECTS / 12h / English

This seminar aims to provide an introduction to the legal aspects and normative dimension of blockchain technology. Since the financial crisis of 2008 there’s been sustained enthusiasm surrounding blockchain. The technology was born in the crypto-anarchist underground of the Internet. In less than a decade, the original Bitcoin white paper was turned into a worldwide technology ecosystem in a bottom-up fashion, by a rapidly growing group of technologists, investors, and entrepreneurs, sporting grand techno-solutionist visions of how to change the world.

The blockchain ecosystem tries to build a decentralized, disintermediated, and distributed technology, which enables decentralized, disintermediated, and distributed modes of social coordination in a mostly decentralized, disintermediated, and distributed manner. This congruence between the design of the technology, its attempted mode of development, and its stated goals is the strongest argument in favor of taking blockchain technology seriously. It explains why, despite all of its shortcomings, the study of its social, economic, political, and legal implications is worthwhile.

The seminar “Blockchain and the Law” will consider the legal aspects and implications of this technology. This legal analysis will consider the broader context of the current institutional, political, economic, social, and cultural frameworks, which both shape and struggle to contain the technology.


Primavera De Filippi is a Research Director at the National Center of Scientific Research in Paris, and Faculty Associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for…