China appears eager to be at the forefront of technological development and adoption. In 2014, Chinese company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering took 3D-printing technology to a whole other level when it printed a 10-house village in less than one day. In May 2015, what is apparently the world's largest floating solar plant was completed and connected to the power grid in China's Anhui province. And now there are plans in China to build a 161-kilometer solar expressway that charges electronic cars as they drive along. In 2016, president Xi Jinping laid out plans for the country to be a leading worldwide innovator by 2030.
In line with this goal, China has recently begun accepting nascent technology into court litigation procedures.
In August 2017, China opened what was called the "world's first" internet court dedicated to handling internet-related cases. Court proceedings take place online. The court is physically located in Hangzhou, a city known as the country's e-commerce hub, but because it is online, the court states "the whole world is connected to Hangzhou by clicking a mouse." Cases heard by the court include disputes concerning online shopping, the ownership and infringement of online copyrights, and the infringement on individual rights via the internet.
About a year after the internet court opened, a case involving online copyright infringement was brought before it. The plaintiff in the case was reportedly tech-savvy enough to capture the violating websites and their source code, and then upload that data to Factom's blockchain platform, creating an immutable record of the copyright infringement.
In this case, the court ruled that:
"On the premise that the technical verification is consistent and other evidence can be mutually verified, such electronic data can be used as evidence for the infringement in the case."
And now, China's supreme court has backed that decision, declaring that as of Friday, September 7, evidence stored and verified on blockchain platforms can be used in legal disputes.
According to the official announcement, the internet court will consider evidence provided by defendants and plaintiffs that can be proven authentic through electronic signatures, time stamps, hash value checks, and tamper-proof verification methods stored on blockchain platforms. The courts will judge this kind of evidence on a case-by-case basis.
This is not the first time blockchain technology and evidence storage have intersected in China. In May, ETHNews reported that China's Ministry of Public Security applied for a patent for a time-stamped, blockchain-based system to store forensic evidence gathered in police investigations.