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Regulating BlockchainTechno-Social and Legal Challenges$
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Philipp Hacker, Ioannis Lianos, Georgios Dimitropoulos, and Stefan Eich

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198842187

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198842187.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 June 2021

In Code(rs) We Trust

In Code(rs) We Trust

Software Developers as Fiduciaries in Public Blockchains

(p.58) 3 In Code(rs) We Trust
Regulating Blockchain

Angela Walch

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the myth of ‘decentralized governance’ of public blockchains, arguing that certain people who create, operate, or reshape them function much like fiduciaries of those who rely on these data structures. It compares the role of leading software developers and Frankel’s conception of a ‘fiduciary’ and finds much in common, as users place extreme trust in the developers to be both competent and loyal (i.e. to be free of conflicts of interest). The chapter frames the cost–benefit analysis necessary to evaluate whether it is wise to treat these parties as fiduciaries, and outlines key questions needed to flesh out the fiduciary categorization. For example, which software developers are influential enough to resemble fiduciaries? Are all users of a blockchain ‘entrustors’ of the fiduciaries who operate the blockchain, or only a subset of those who rely on the blockchain? The chapter concludes by considering the broader implications of treating software developers as fiduciaries, given the existing accountability paradigm that largely shields them from liability for the code they create.

Keywords:   blockchain technology, fiduciary, blockchain governance, cryptocurrency, software developer, Bitcoin, Ethereum, fiduciary law

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