You can't outrun the law... even if you're running a crypto startup

My academic background includes a certain amount of jurisprudence and law, and thus the regulatory whirlwind that is flurrying about the crypto industry right now is of great interest to me. I have read and written several articles about the work that has already been done in terms of developing a satisfactory legal standard for ICOs and blockchain based startups, and I’m always very curious to see what the next big development is and how it will shape the industry moving forward.

This evening, an article popped up on CoinDesk that takes a brief look back at the lawsuits and regulations that we saw in 2017 in order to make a pretty important point by the end:

Even in the absence of direct and explicit regulation, ICOs and crypto companies are not immune to existing financial regulation. And furthermore, any lack of litigation to date does not suggest that litigation is not to come for those who have tried to take advantage of the system.

The article also made an interesting point, which is that even companies that are operating in Switzerland are not safe from oncoming litigation in the event that there has been any wrongdoing. The US courts have taken to contacting people via “email, Twitter, and LinkedIn” to notify them of a pending lawsuit and offer an opportunity to respond, which has been relatively effective in many suits that were brought in the second half of 2017, and the first few months of this year.

One more points that I want to share with you directly from the article:

I loved how they talked about the fact that “lawyers can read,” in the sense that a lot of the conversations that are happening on Slack or other social media sites pertaining to ICOs and new crypto companies are admissible in a court of law, and prosecutors are not hesitating to use them. I can only imagine what kind of internal banter has been presented to the courts — kind of like when the Federal Courts struck down Trump’s travel ban partially on the basis that he himself referred to it as a “Muslim Ban” while on the campaign trail.

Bottom line, I suppose is to watch what you say online and whenever the cameras are rolling. You never know how someone might use it against you. (Not that the cameras have much interest in me… yet!)

If you’d like to read the article that inspired this post, here’s a link. We’re likely to see a lot of new regulation and litigation in the blockchain space this year, so keep your eyes open and make sure you’re staying up to date!