The Great Smart Contract Code Debate: Is It Free Speech or Just Software?

Blockchain Today
5 min readFeb 7, 2024

Smart contracts are self-executing agreements encoded directly into lines of code residing on blockchains. They are one of the most revolutionary inventions from the crypto world, promising to rewire how business is conducted. But simmering legal tensions surround smart contracts concerning the thorny issue of free speech.

What Are Smart Contracts?

Before assessing the constitutional debate around them, let’s understand what smart contracts are. A smart contract is software that automatically moves digital assets between parties when certain programmed conditions are met.

For example, a smart contract could automatically release funds to a freelancer two weeks after work is approved by a client, adding timestamps to ensure timely payment. The entire workflow from invoicing, payment releases and paperwork is directly coded into software rather than paper contracts.

Smart Contracts vs Traditional Code

While all software encodes logic, smart contract code has special characteristics:

  • It controls valuable assets, including cryptocurrencies worth real money
  • It cannot be changed after deployment, only new versions can be launched

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