Decentralised Technology and Technology Neutrality in Legal Rules: An Analysis of De Voogd and Hedqvist

Open access

Abstract

This article looks at whether the principle of technology neutrality can be applied to the centralised-decentralised scale in a manner similar to its application to the offline-online scale. The analysis is based on two cases of similar circumstances relating to bitcoin exchanges run by early adopters in Estonia and Sweden. The cases exhibit two different ex ante legislative approaches aimed at payments in currencies and the interpretation of the respective legislation by the judiciary in applying these rules to bitcoins and to the activity of exchanging bitcoins. The article examines whether the legal rules applied to the payment infrastructure of currencies were technology neutral and also implemented neutrally or whether, contrary to the principle, there was difference of treatment of decentralised technology outputs – bitcoins – from the centralised technology outputs – legal tender – irrelevant of the functional equivalence of these units of payment.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Anderlini Luca Leonardo Felli and Alessandro Riboni. “Statute Law or Case Law?” LSE STICERD Research Paper No. TE/2008/528 (August 2008) // https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1401783.

  • 2. Antonopoulos Andreas M. Handbook of Digital Currencies: Bitcoin Innovation Financial instruments and Big Data (Elsevier 2015).

  • 3. Antonopoulos Andreas M. Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies (O’Reilly 2014).

  • 4. Bennett Moses Lyria. “Understanding legal responses to technological change: the example of in vitro fertilization.” Minnesota Journal of Law Science and Technology Volume 6 Issue 2 (2005) // https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1337&context=mjlst.

  • 5. Butenko Anna and Pierre Larouche. “Regulation for innovativeness or regulation of innovation?” Law Innovation and Technology 7:1 (2015): 52–82 // DOI: 10.1080/17579961.2015.1052643.

  • 6. Chang Sue. “Here’s all the money in the world in one chart.” MarketWatch.com (28 November 2017) // https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-how-much-money-exists-in-the-entire-world-in-one-chart-2015-12-18.

  • 7. Clinton William J. and Jr. Albert Gore. “Framework for Global Electronic Commerce” // https://clintonwhitehouse4.archives.gov/WH/New/Commerce/read.html.

  • 8. Carys J. Craig. “Technological Neutrality: (Pre)Serving the Purposes of Copyright Law.” Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper Series 45 (2014): 275–276 // https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1044&context=olsrps.

  • 9. Cuccuru Pierluigi. “Beyond bitcoin: an early overview on smart contracts.” International Journal of Law and Information Technology Volume 25 Issue 3 (1 September 2017): 179–195 // DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ijlit/eax003.

  • 10. De Filippi Primavera and Aaron Wright. Blockchain and the Law: the rule of code (Harvard University Press 2018).

  • 11. “Euroopa Kohus: bitcoinidega kauplemine on maksuvaba” (European Court: trading with bitcoins is tax free). Äripäev.ee (23 October 2015) // https://www.aripaev.ee/uudised/2015/10/23/euroopa-kohus-bitcoinidegakauplemine-on-maksuvaba.

  • 12. FATF. “Virtual Currencies Key Definitions and Potential AML/CFT Risks” (June 2014) // http://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/reports/Virtual-currency-key-definitions-and-potential-aml-cft-risks.pdf.

  • 13. Financial Supervisory Authority. “Virtuaalraha pakkujad ei kuulu järelevalve alla” (Providers of virtual currency do not fall under supervision) Website of the Financial Supervisory Authority (05 February 2014) // http://www.fi.ee/index.php?id=21561.

  • 14. Gervais Daniel J. “Towards a new core international copyright norm: the reverse three-step test.” Marquette International Property Law Review 9 (2005) // https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=499924.

  • 15. Greenberg Brad A. “Rethinking Technology Neutrality.” Minnesota Law Review 100 (2016): 1495–1562.

  • 16. Hojnik Janja. “Technology neutral EU law: digital goods within the traditional good/services distinction.” International Journal of Law and Information Technology Volume 25 Issue 1 (1 March 2017): 63–84 // https://doi.org/10.1093/ijlit/eaw009.

  • 17. Inselberg Kadri. “Tavid kaalub Bitcoiniga kauplemise alustamist” (Tavid is considering trading bitcoins). Postimees.ee (23 January 2014) // https://majandus24.postimees.ee/2671592/tavid-kaalub-bitcoinigakauplemise-alustamist.

  • 18. Kamecke Ulrich and Torsten Körber. “Technological Neutrality in the EC Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications: A Good Principle Widely Misunderstood. Technological Neutrality in the EC Regulatory Framework.” E.C.L.R. (2008): 330–339 // http://www.unigoettingen.de/de/document/download/65b9d0d841b831596888f8fb208e838b.pdf/Kamecke-Koerber_ECLR08_29%285%29.

  • 19. Koops Bert-Jaap. “Should ICT Regulation be Technology neutral?”: 77–108. In: Bert-Jaap Koops et al. Starting Points for ICT Regulation. Deconstructing Prevalent Policy One-Liners. The Hague: TMC Asser 2006.

  • 20. Lätt Priit. “Complaint of de Voogd’s representative” (21 April 2014) // http://btc.ee/documents.html.

  • 21. Nakamoto Satoshi. “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-peer Electronic Cash System” (2008) // https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf.

  • 22. Saad Rainer. “Mida arvab Eesti Pank bitcoinist?” (What does the Bank of Estonia think of bitcoin?). Äripäev (18 December 2013) // https://www.aripaev.ee/uudised/2013-12-18/mida_arvab_eesti_pank_bitcoinist.

  • 23. Reed Chris. “Taking Sides on Technology Neutrality.” SCRIPTed Volume 4 Issue 3 (September 2007): 263–284 // http://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/scripted4&i=281.

  • 24. Reyes Carla L. “Moving Beyond Bitcoin to an Endogenous Theory of Decentralized Ledger Technology Regulation: An Initial Proposal.” 61 Vill. L. Rev. 191 (2016) // https://digitalcommons.law.villanova.edu/vlr/vol61/iss1/5.

  • 25. VAT Committee (Article 398 of Directive 2006/112/EC). “Subject: CJEU Case C-264/14 Hedqvist: Bitcoin.” Working Paper No. 892 (February 4 2016) // https://circabc.europa.eu/sd/a/add54a49-9991-45ae-aac5-1e260b136c9e/892%20-%20CJEU%20Case%20C-264-14%20Hedqvist%20-%20Bitcoin.pdf.

  • 26. VAT Committee (Article 398 of Directive 2006/112/EC). “Subject: Question concerning the application of EU VAT provisions.” Working Paper No. 811 (July 29 2014) // https://circabc.europa.eu/sd/a/4adc83f8-a7ab-48ee-b907-468459c0dad7/49%20-%20VAT%20treatment%20of%20Bitcoin.pdf.

  • 27. Wheatley Alan. “Cash Is Dead Long Live Cash.” Finance & Development Vol. 54 No. 2 (June 2017) // https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2017/06/wheatley.htm.

  • 1. 137 SE Eelnõu seletuskiri Seletuskiri rahapesu ja terrorismi rahastamise tõkestamise seaduse eelnõu juurde (Explanatory Memorandum of Draft law 137 SE on Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Prevention Act 2007) // https://www.riigikogu.ee/tegevus/eelnoud/eelnou/046802d9-335d-415bc4a1-650aa487eb33/Rahapesu%20ja%20terrorismi%20rahastamise%20t%C3%B5kestamise%20seadus.

  • 2. 232 SE Eelnõu seletuskiri Isikut tõendavate dokumentide seaduse krediidiasutuste seaduse ning rahapesu ja terrorismi rahastamise tõkestamise seaduse muutmise seaduse juurde (Explanatory Memorandum of Draft law 232 SE on the Act Amending Identification Documents Act Credit Institutions Act and Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Prevention Act 2016) // https://www.riigikogu.ee/tegevus/eelnoud/eelnou/954a096c-722d-4e9a-8000-e292026f8156/Isikut%20t%C3%B5endavate%20dokumentide%20seaduse,%20krediidiasutuste%20seaduse%20ning%20rahapesu%20ja%20terrorismi%2 0rahastamise%20t%C3%B5kestamise%20seaduse%20muutmise%20seadus.

  • 3. Advocate General’s Opinion of 16 June 2016 in Vereniging Openbare Bibliotheken v Stichting Leenrecht Request for a preliminary ruling from the Rechtbank Den Haag CJEU Case C-174/15 (Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber) of 10 November 2016).

  • 4. Art & Allposters International BV v Stichting Pictoright Request for a preliminary ruling from the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden CJEU Case C-419/13 (Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 22 January 2015).

  • 5. Article 5(3) of Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on jurisdiction recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. Official Journal of the European Union L 12 16.1.2001 p. 1–23.

  • 6. Belgacom SA and Others v État belge. CJEU Case C-375/11 (Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 21 March 2013).

  • 7. Bolagsupplysningen OÜ and Ingrid Ilsjan v Svensk Handel AB. CJEU Case C-194/16 (Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) 17 October 2017).

  • 8. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Official Journal of the European Communities C 326:391–407 (26.10.2012) // http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf.

  • 9. Christiane Urbing-Adam v Administration de l’enregistrement et des domaines. CJEU Case C-267/99 (Judgment of 11 October 2001) paragraph 36.

  • 10. Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco Itelazpi SA (C-66/16 P) Comunidad Autónoma de Cataluña Centre de Telecomunicacions i Tecnologies de la Informació de la Generalitat de Catalunya (CTTI) (C-67/16 P) Navarra de Servicios y Tecnologías SA (C-68/16 P) Cellnex Telecom SA formerly Abertis Telecom SA Retevisión I SA (C69/16 P) v European Commission SES Astra SA. Joined CJEU Cases C-66/16 P to C-69/16 P and Cases C-70/16 P and C-81/16 P (Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 20 December 2017).

  • 11. Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax (VAT Directive). Official Journal of the European Union L 347 11.12.2006 p. 1–118 // ELI: http://data.europa.eu/eli/dir/2006/112/oj.

  • 12. Court documents // http://btc.ee/appeal.html.

  • 13. Criminal proceedings against Bent Falbert and Others Request for a preliminary ruling from the Københavns Byret. CJEU Case C-255/16 (Judgment of the Court (First Chamber) of 20 December 2017).

  • 14. De Voogd v Police and the Border Guard. Estonian Supreme Court ruling RKHKo 3-3-1-75-15 (2016).

  • 15. Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (Copyright Directive). Official Journal of the European Union L 167 22.6.2001 p. 10–19.

  • 16. Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive). Official Journal of the European Union L 108 24.4.2002 p. 33–50 // ELI: http://data.europa.eu/eli/dir/2002/21/oj.

  • 17. Directive 2009/110/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on the taking up pursuit and prudential supervision of the business of electronic money institutions amending Directives 2005/60/EC and 2006/48/EC and repealing Directive 2000/46/EC (Text with EEA relevance) (E-Money Directive). Official Journal of the European Union L 267 (10.10.2009): 7–17.

  • 18. Directive (EU) 2009/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the legal protection of computer programs (Codified version) (Text with EEA relevance). Official Journal of the European Union L 111 5.5.2009 p. 16–22.

  • 19. Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC (4th AML Directive). Official Journal of the European Union L 141 5.6.2015 p. 73–117.

  • 20. Directive (EU) 2016/1148 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016 concerning measures for a high common level of security of network and information systems across the Union (NIS Directive). Official Journal of the European Union L 194 19.7.2016 p. 1–30 // ELI: http://data.europa.eu/eli/dir/2016/1148/oj.

  • 21. Directive (EU) 2018/843 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing and amending Directives 2009/138/EC and 2013/36/EU (5th AML Directive). Official Journal of the European Union L 156 19.6.2018 p. 43–74.

  • 22. EDate Advertising GmbH and Others v X and Société MGN Limited. Joined Cases C-509/09 and C-161/10 (Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 25 October 2011).

  • 23. European Commission European Parliament v Council of the European Union. CJEU C-114/12 (Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 4 September 2014).

  • 24. European Commission v Federal Republic of Germany. CJEU Case C 109/02 (Judgment of the Court (Fifth Chamber) of 23 October 2003).

  • 25. European Commission v Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. CJEU Case C-502/13 (Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 5 March 2015).

  • 26. European Commission v Kingdom of Sweden. CJEU C 480/10 (Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 25 April 2013).

  • 27. European Commission v Republic of France. CJEU Case C-479/13 (Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 5 March 2015).

  • 28. Finanzamt Gladbeck v Edith Linneweber and Finanzamt Herne-West v Savvas Akritidis. CJEU Joined Cases C-453/02 and C-462/02 (Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber) of 17 February 2005).

  • 29. Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act of Estonia. Rahapesu ja terrorismi rahastamise tõkestamise seadus RT I 06.07.2016 13.

  • 30. Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act of Estonia. Rahapesu ja terrorismi rahastamise tõkestamise seadus RT I 17.11.2017 2.

  • 31. Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act of Estonia. Rahapesu ja terrorismi rahastamise tõkestamise seadus RT I 2008 3 21.

  • 32. Opinion of Advocate General Kokott in Skatteverket v David Hedqvist. CJEU Case C-264/14 (16 July 2015).

  • 33. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing and amending Directive 2009/101/EC (Proposal). COM/2016/0450 final - 2016/0208 (COD).

  • 34. Republic of Poland v European Parliament and Council of the European Union. CJEU Case C-5/16 (Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber) of 21 June 2018).

  • 35. Request for a preliminary ruling from the Rechtbank Den Haag (Netherlands) lodged on 16 April 2018 Nederlands Uitgeversverbond Groep Algemene Uitgevers v Tom Kabinet Internet BV Tom Kabinet Holding BV Tom Kabinet Uitgeverij BV. CJEU Case C-263/18.

  • 36. Skatteverket v David Hedqvist. CJEU Case C-264/14 (Judgment of the Court (Fifth Chamber) of 22 October 2015).

  • 37. Technische Universität Darmstadt v Eugen Ulmer KG. CJEU Case C-117/13 (Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) 11 September 2014).

  • 38. UsedSoft GmbH v Oracle International Corp. CJEU Case C 128-11 (Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) 3 July 2012).

Search
Journal information
Impact Factor


CiteScore 2018: 0.42

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.138
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.281

Target audience: researchers and scholars in the fields of law and politics, with an acute interest in the cross-pollinations of disciplines, comparative approaches to regional issues, and active dialogue on pressing contemporary issues of theoretical and practical import.
Cited By
Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 487 487 152
PDF Downloads 292 292 19