The Adelaide Principles

Released March 2019

We are pleased to share the outcome of the ADC Global Blockchain Summit 2019 that formed the genesis of the Adelaide Principles. These are a result of the hard work of all contributors and working groups as well as the international industry leaders who participated, that was driven from an effort to distil the key principles important to progress the evolution of distributed ledger technologies into society. Importantly to see blockchain based solutions adopted in an orderly and reliable manner so as to ultimately be a service to the global community where they are appropriately applicable.

The Adelaide Principles are a set of principles designed to guide the implementation and regulation of blockchain, distributed ledger technologies and digital assets. Over the course of the ADC Global Blockchain Summit held in Adelaide in March 2019, the Principles were developed in working groups and sessions with all attendees, and in consultation with key Summit partners and contributors.

The Adelaide Principles are an important stepping stone for the establishment and trusted growth of a new technology sector in Australia and the augmentation of existing business processes using distributed ledger and blockchain technology, providing a helpful pathway, useful expectations and greater certainty for technologists, businesses, regulators and government alike. It represents a coming together of leading Australian innovation institutions, businesses, researchers, investors and policymakers, with the forerunners in the burgeoning blockchain technology development industry and sectors of application globally.

A thoroughgoing working group and summit process brought in key stakeholders to design a set of principles to ensure efficient development with responsible and accountable innovation. These Principles could be applied internationally and can inform how other technologies are also developed and integrated into economies and societies.

Some key contributors to the Adelaide Principles included Anton Roux, Michael Roux and Matt Faubel, from ADC Forum, Stephen Roux from Dragon Tree Capital, Nik Gowing, Caroline Malcolm from the OECD, Heather Delfs from Kingsland University School of Blockchain, Ben Yablon from SALT Lending, Dr Jane Thomason from Blockchain Quantum Impact, Paul Pounendis from Adelaide Blockchain, Xiao Han Drummond from Refni, Mark Staples from Data61, Jason Potts from RMIT and Stuart Davis from Scotia Bank.

A set of principles, developed at the ADC Global Blockchain Summit in Adelaide, to guide the implementation and regulation of blockchain, distributed ledger technologies and digital assets.

Informed decision making. Government and businesses have a responsibility to be informed about the latest blockchain technology and make decisions based on a comprehensive understanding of the technology.

Inclusiveness. Decision making around public policy must be inclusive, with the involvement of all stakeholders (wider community, users, technology companies, government, academia), to take advantage of the new blockchain technology ecosystem. Involve all levels of business in the policy dialogue, including SMEs and start-ups, not just major international corporations. New developments in blockchain technology can come from any quarter.

Responsible and accountable innovation. Encourage human-centred design and responsible innovation throughout the entire technology development and innovation lifecycle. Foster maximal creativity and innovation in the development of technology with ongoing evaluation and consideration of consequences and strong ethical filters at the application stage. The technical community should embrace accountability for outcomes from the outset.

Experimental mindset. Create opportunities for safe experimentation - embrace failure as a tool for growth.

Government leadership. Governments need to take the lead responsibility as both a user and developer, leading by example and being proactive, not reactive to technology changes. Governments have a role in identifying, informing, initiating, innovating and investing.

Regulatory fitness. A lack of regulation for new technology can hinder development as much as the wrong regulation. Do not try to retrofit regulations into an existing framework, but aim to design regulation from first principles with an underlying emphasis on consumer protection and risk management.

Transparent, open and decentralised. Make systems transparent and maintain the open and decentralised nature of blockchain technology.

Networked community. Use technology, supported by the broad network to spread benefits through disintermediation, to build empowerment and community, and sustainable value.

Responsibility for the impacts of technology adoption. New technology adoption should take into account impacts on the environment, employment, and the values of social responsibility. Recognise that technology is not neutral and can emerge with inbuilt political and ideological assumptions and that every country needs to consider the impacts of new technologies on its sovereignty. The net benefits should be greater than the costs.

General application. These principles can be applied to other new technologies, not just blockchain.