The modern world is seeing a faster transformation which involves more software-based objects and actions than traditional means which we have been used to, for a long time. “Code as law” saw legal codes crafted by democratically accountable lawmakers. But they get scrutinized, influenced or at times, gets commanded by the less democratically accountable software developers. 

“Code is law” takes us to accept the fact that the inherent capability of software codes can influence, restrict, and direct our way of living. This software code replaces legal codes and are sufficient for controlling what we do online. 

Advancement in technology is seeing deployment of artificial intelligence in many areas. We tend to lose the differentiation line between software codes and legal codes – a topic that needs deeper exploration. 

Is regulation by code desirable?

Regulations that software codes bring in, are inevitable. Such codes are becoming more powerful and it will become sharper when they get time-tested. So, we cannot rule out the regulation influence by these codes. However, if such ‘non-regulatory clusters’ arise in various walks of life, governments and local legal bodies would find difficult to bring many processes within their regulatory control with legal codes. These “code-controlled clusters” will be floating as un-touched entities and pose a big challenge to the way legality and its enforcement happens in society. 

Unless governments regulate the non-regulatory clusters and define better ways in which such “code-based-clusters” operate, they will lose the power to control and fail to provide confidence for all citizens to operate without fear. So, in short, regulation by code is inevitable but control on it by legal codes should go hand in hand.

What implications could the reliance on regulation by blockchain technologies have for internet users?

While software systems can function in such a way to regulate our action, blockchain go one more step ahead by having a formulation ecosystem of their own, which has zero dependency on our real-world democratic law-making. They act like self-reliant cluster, providing independence in financial operations to people. 

Until a global consortium is formed to tackle and handle pertaining international affairs, it is very clear that these self-reliant clusters would pose damaging impact on the existing way of life. Blockchain or any such technology has controlling algorithms and data structure which can control its behaviour, wherein we can say that it works within its own perfect legal framework. Internet users might be able to reliably use such a framework. But the questions that arise are its influences in many places in real-world.

But when such a unit enters the real-world ecosystem, governments need to knit them into the rest of control units operational within the country. Safety, equality, control, and ease of enforcement are elements that democratically accountable lawmakers cannot forget.