Issues and solutions, Part 1

Lawmakers in Australia want to regulate decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). In this three-part series, Oleksii Konashevych discusses the risks of stifling the emerging phenomenon of DAOs and possible solutions.

On March 21, 2022, during Blockchain Week Australia, Australian Senator Andrew Bragg made a few interesting statements, one of which was about the intention of lawmakers to introduce regulations for decentralized autonomous organizations.

Per se, it is not new, as the Australian Senate Committee led by Senator Bragg recommended in October 2021 that decentralized autonomous organizations be brought under the fold of the Corporations Act, which provides standards for corporate governance and personalities.

Senator’s plan

So, what did Senator Andrew Bragg say?

“Decentralized Autonomous Organisations can replace Companies. It might be the most significant development since the first joint-stock companies floated on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in 1602.”

He continued: “If that doesn’t make policymakers listen, perhaps this will. Given that DAOs are recognized as partnerships, not companies, they are not liable to pay company tax. Company tax accounted for 17.1% of total Commonwealth government revenue. Our reliance on company income tax is unsustainable.” Bragg added, “DAOs are an existential threat to the tax base and they must be recognized and regulated as a matter of urgency.”

On his website, you can find an extended version of the statement, where the senator shows some economic figures to support his conclusions.

At this point, I should clarify that the partners of a partnership do pay taxes but separately: Individuals pay income tax and companies in the partnership still pay the company tax, as would any other normal company.

Then the senator clarifies what aspects of the DAOs, exactly, the government plans to regulate, “Recognizing the fact that DAOs are self-regulating and transparent, with an in-built system for governance.”

He continued, “The Treasury will need to address these issues, leaving the field open for DAOs to continue to live up to their name. Any attempt to prescribe a code [would] be self-defeating.”

The risk is that because these new concepts are not raised, they are not on the agenda of politicians and bureaucrats, so when it comes to regulating, they will refer to the existing methods, to something that they know, and this is not good because they only know the conventional ways of regulating. But DAOs appeared as the response to obsolete approaches, excessive bureaucracy and red tape.

Read about replacing a company registry and the “Code is Law” paradigm in Parts 2 and 3.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Oleksii Konashevych has a Ph.D. in Law, Science, and Technology, and is the CEO of the Australian Institute for Digital Transformation. In his academic research, he presented a concept of a new generation of property registries that are based on a blockchain. He presented an idea of title tokens and supported it with technical protocols for smart laws and digital authorities to enable full-featured legal governance of digitized property rights. He also developed a cross-chain protocol that enables the use of multiple ledgers for a blockchain estate registry, which he presented to the Australian Senate in 2021.