Published by Mario Oettler on

The important question is, who is legitimate to change a protocol. In a blockchain context, particularly with public blockchains like Ethereum, Bitcoin, Monero, etc.) there is no legal owner of the blockchain. And since the software is open source, everybody could clone the network and make changes to it.

Legitimacy can be granted in many different ways:

  • law,
  • election,
  • tradition,
  • power/force,
  • persuasion,
  • religion,
  • continuity,
  • performance,
  • participation,
  • fairness,
  • rituals,
  • etc.

Most of the examples above are legitimate because of a general social acceptance. Suppose the mood of the society or community swings, formerly legitimate decision-makers can be deemed illegitimate. While legitimate leaders in such a community can influence the path of development, they have to make sure that the community members follow their path.

In a public blockchain network, the election of representatives is not feasible. That’s why legitimacy through election doesn’t work. Instead, there are different criteria that users apply.

This could be:

  • Transparency
  • Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Participation
  • Responsiveness
  • Outputs