Can Bitcoin be regulated?
Certain aspects of blockchain technology fall under the purview of NIST, IEEE, and a number of standards in the networking, computing, and information security industries. However, a technical standards committee has never been set up specifically to deal with Bitcoin or competing blockchain protocols like the legacy Ethereum network. In contrast, the digital currency industry usually praises itself for its lack of professionalism and celebrates the success of its own “decentralized” self-government: a meme that only stands up to scrutiny if there are no researches on the Digital Currency Group.
Of course, the self-praise of most blockchain groups is lauded by the same people who hope the general public will ignore their proximity and participation in an industry plagued by overt scams, cyclical hype bubbles, and sometimes globally coordinated fraud. Against this bleak backdrop, the Bitcoin Association has set up a Bitcoin SV Technical Standards Committee as the cornerstone of the growing distinction between BSV and the blockchain economy as a whole. Last week they reached the milestone of officially requesting a public review of a proposed technical standard!
What is the standard
A subject known to big blockers: Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) and Merkle Inclusion Proofs will be the first standard proposed for feedback and verification as the committee attempts to establish a standardized data format. Encoding the standard would allow SPV to be implemented by commercial entities in a way that is cross-compatible between wallets, much like USB devices are compatible between Mac, Windows, and Linux PCs.
If enacted, wallets could adopt the standard, promoting it to be compatible with the industry standard for simplified payment verification, and giving consumers greater confidence in the technology. Over time, Bitcoin SV could be distinguished from one another in two ways:
1: Produce professional documentation and standards that encourage development from outside the Bitcoin economy to leverage SPV (and other upcoming Bitcoin SV standards) while also allowing the Bitcoin economy to more closely align with the global technology sector.
2: Make more intentional connections to the Bitcoin whitepaper (Section 8 “Simplified Payment Verification”) as another point of reference for the Bitcoin protocol, which is only fully available on the Bitcoin SV network. Specifically, SPV is not available, unworkable, or completely out of date on most other competing Bitcoin-based networks.
While technical standards have their own pitfalls (often criticized in the tug-of-war between standardized and proprietary formats), they tend to lead to an industry-wide predictability that, when combined with a successful commercial takeover, helps industries professionalize and integrate with existing technologies. But they won’t be without their own critics!
As with any new idea, there could be some setbacks from commercial developers who don’t want to stick to (admittedly optional) standards. Or, as we have seen in other technology sectors, multiple governing bodies could emerge to propose incompatible, competing standards that, like VHS versus Betamax, would lead to Layer 2 wars.
However, standards could help clear up the confusion plaguing new bitcoiners, and they will clarify a way for Bitcoin SV to truly become the professional blockchain for corporate data management and peer-to-peer trading.
If you would like to participate in feedback to the Bitcoin SV Technical Standards Committee, please click to register and participate in setting standards that will help bring Bitcoin SV to the world!
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