Blocked and Chained: Blockchain and Problems of Privacy and Transparency


Blockchain is frequently claimed to be a democratizing technology. However, its relationship to both law and broader democratic institutions remains uncertain. One claim regarding blockchain’s democratic potential is that it is radically transparent and can bring such transparency to existing systems of governance. This paper examines that claim against theories of transparency, and against a specific exercise of transparency, freedom of information. This paper finds that blockchain technology, while useful for transparency, will not meet broader transparency goals without addressing political gatekeepers and legal, social, and cultural needs.