On 26 April 2019, the Governor of the US State of Washington, Jay Inslee, signed into law Senate Bill 5638 - a Bill “recognizing the validity of distributed ledger technology”.
The Bill, which amends existing legislation, namely the Washington Electronic Authentication Act (WEAA), encourages the development of blockchain, recognises its use in commerce and digital signatures, and provides definitions for the technology.
The purpose of the WEAA, enacted in 1997, was “to facilitate commerce by means of reliable electronic messages” and to ensure that “electronic signatures are not denied legal recognition”, as well as providing “voluntary licensing mechanisms for digital signature certification.”
Scheduled to take effect on 28 July 2019, SB 5628 expands the Act, thereby specifically “encouraging the development of distributed ledger technology”, thus allowing for blockchain-enabled digital signatures and licenses.
The new legislation specifically forbids discrimination against digital records, stating:
“An electronic record may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is generated, communicated, received, or stored using distributed ledger technology.”
Furthermore, the Bill adds to the Act definitions for Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology.
Blockchain is defined as “a cryptographically secured, chronological, and decentralized consensus ledger or consensus database maintained via internet, peer-to-peer network, or other similar interaction.”
Distributed ledger technology is defined as "any distributed ledger protocol and supporting infrastructure, including blockchain, that uses a distributed, decentralized, shared, and replicated ledger.”