Nation Building DApps will need to comply with regulations that are not yet available 'as code' consumable by humans or machines.
Community-created open-source platform & DIY manuals for anyone to turn any laws/regs into code for everyone to contribute and build on.
This is the total amount allocated to 🔥Regulation-as-code for DApps
DApps are global from the beginning, but people and companies are local, subject to local jurisdictions. Cardano and any DApps will need to integrate with a complex web of regulation to bring economic identity to one billion global digital citizens. Regulation needs to be consistent, transparent, accountable, and reusable. The rules should be made digital; Law-as-Code, not Code-as-Law.
We aim to establish a shared platform for Law-as-Code/Rules-as-Code to set the standard for reusable open-source Regulation-as-Code (RAC). Our platform will enable Cardano DApps to integrate with and update different regulations from countries across the globe consistently. This is a first step in the process to consider the rules themselves being stored on chain for immutability, audit trail, etc, creating further community/citizen trust and confidence, i.e.; "Proof of law". A platform anyone can use, contribute to, and rely upon for RAC.
In establishing the platform, we will create easy to follow documentation. We'll guide anyone to help add new regulations to the platform from their jurisdiction. We'll work to unify international treaties (such as FATCA/AML/CTF requirements). The RAC platform will make the development and conformance to regulation far more efficient and transparent for teams. Reduce the potential for inconsistent regulations across the Cardano universe and enable jurisdictions to build upon others' work quickly. Pioneering and leading the ecosystem of where humans and machines are users.
As Cardano Community Hubs establish themselves, well-documented processes, libraries of examples and common code will increase the speed of deployment for new Cardano engineers, developers and designers in developing countries.
In jurisdictions where there are high levels of corruption, and variation in the interpretation of regulations are commonplace, the platform will provide the means to create greater transparency, traceability to law, and appealability.
Why it's important
We know from experience that often, in many countries, internal business systems in government departments do not distinguish the legal rule (legislation/regulation) from operational rules, and this conflict means operational rules can contradict the law. A simple business example of how this solution can help – a government/nation's Tax authority exposes tax-law-as-code to industry, leading accounting/ERP software providers, i.e.; SAP, Xero, Quickbooks, etc, who are then able to simply integrate with the authority's RAC APIs for 'always current, always relevant, always lawful' verifiable access to tax laws.
Critically, the same disconnect between legal rules and operational rules in developing countries often leads to deeply unjust outcomes for the most vulnerable. It allows space for corruption.
RAC will help here too, provide a means for communities to test government decisions against the law, for better access to social justice, connecting regulators and their systems back to the place where they get their authority from – the people.
It supports the principles of modular architecture and decentralisation for Cardano DApps – enabling more than just an encoding of regulations, but encoding of the test suite for regulations.
It reduces cost and complexity for DApp developers and individuals, businesses and institutions. Right now, each time a rule is changed, 3rd party business systems, government, industry, or otherwise, need to go through an expensive onerous software release/change management process.
It also supports the principles of common/shared platforms and "whole of government" architectures for many developed digital nations/jurisdictions, (e.g.; Australian gov policy/framework: https://www.dta.gov.au/whole-government-architecture) as well as enabling developing nations to start with equity, transparency, inclusive accountability and human and machine-readable code in the foundations of their RAC.
• Greater consolidation of law/rules
• Greater consistency of law/rules
• Greater access of law/rules
• Less fragmentation of law/rules
Starting from a logic model, with an interdisciplinary, multicultural approach, co-drafting in both natural and computer languages creates new opportunities for monitoring and appealing.
Finally, it provides a resource for Cardonians in Community Hubs (in developing and developed nations) to adopt. In particular, those focused on reducing corruption and building trustless systems, will find it easier to communicate with governments and demonstrate their value proposition using the platform.
The platform will support their pitch to institutions that they are currently missing a valuable opportunity to create traceable, trustworthy, and equitable application of legislation across systems. With examples of solutions in hand, they will be able to ask questions such as; How do you audit in real-time? What does the citizen need to appeal the decision? What are the checks, balances, and oversights? How would you know if your system is helping or hurting people?
Addressing the challenge
This solution is a critical foundational service to enable the scaling of development teams, to deliver registry solutions, globally. It puts regulation in reach of new developers, programmers, engineers, designers and other team members adopting block-chain based solutions and reduces multiple costs creating DApps that impact social/financial inclusion and economic development.
A common/shared open-source RAC platform will enable poor nations to open, share and easily interpret law/rules around said themes such as property registration, medical and vaccination, elections voting, licensing & certifications, etc.
The deliverables for this RAC platform establishment project will begin to address the challenge immediately, providing the means for regulations to be used and reused in foundational registry solutions. They include:
• MVP Open-Source RAC platform for anyone to use, preloaded with examples which are globally applicable.
• Documentation and how tos for the Cardano community to codify the laws and rules they need to comply with in their DApps.
• Whitepaper on RAC platform utility and applicability to Web3 communities and registry solutions.
• At least one exemplar DApp: open-source MVP based on RAC addressed in the project. We are able to confirm a domestic exemplar – a public-facing app for vulnerable people to understand their legal eligibility to help build confidence in registering for and getting what they are entitled to, in collaboration with a social services organisation (Citizens Advice Bureau). An exemplar from elsewhere in the Project Catalyst community, working in collaboration with communities such as WADA, LATMO, ETH is to be explored further. Initial discussions point towards a second exemplar being 75% likely.
Challenges and risks
The first community project that uses the RAC platform might have its own challenges which create a risk for the success of platform building, so we will mitigate that by ensuring the first regulations we codify are needed by more than one Cardano project.
This exemplar from the community may well be likely to face the same challenges identified below. Risk can be mitigated in a number of ways to be explored, e.g.; limit scope, chose legislation which is more straightforward or mirrors a domestic example closely, work with a community with similar structures and institutions to Aotearoa, New Zealand.
The risk of getting the encoding wrong is not a new risk for this project as it exists for the DApps themselves, but we have lawyers in the team who are involved in the coding process to mitigate the risk of misinterpretation. We could still get it wrong, but we’ll build test cases to continuously test the system and rules. As the community which uses the platform grows, documenting these learnings will provide the foundations to improve the practices and processes and grow the community capabilities continuously. As Gandhi said, “Freedom is not worth having if it doesn’t include the freedom to make mistakes”.
Push back from anyone who says that encoding rules will cause a problem will be mitigated with a range of recent examples of the fact that actually they are all encoded already in some way shape or form, inconsistently. Examples will show that subordinate decisions or automation often, unintentionally, ignores legislation and operational policies where they have not been encoded to be reusable by people and machines. There are often multiple interpretations, multiple implementations, and no ability to know whether or not you've gotten the rules right, whether you’re INSIDE government and regulated entities or out.
The domestic exemplar "your legal rights" service will grow public confidence and improve the support available to our most vulnerable and create a greater appetite and requirement for departments to ensure explainability in their systems. We expect departments to not like this much, but we have full legal backing that a community interpretation of the law as code is no less authoritative than a departmental interpretation because only the source legislation is authoritative.
Plan and timeline (roadmap)
The core value of this proposal for the Cardano community is to have RAC as an open platform, a reusable utility, to support all Cardano DApps that rely upon or interact with government rules (legislation or regulation). By having the pure leg/reg as code (prescriptive rules encoded, and judgement base protected and referred to), it makes regulatory compliance more automated, more consistent and easier to build upon.
This technology is not blockchain-based itself at this early stage of establishment of a platform, but rather is a utility to capture and store pertinent rules for and from on-blockchain-based use cases like Smart Contracts.
By having reg/leg as code, it makes it much easier to democratise access to and build of anything that needs to be more likely compliant with leg/reg, reducing the duplication of effort for teams that otherwise would have to individually codify these rules into individual DApps.
The solution this proposal details lays the foundation for regulations themselves to be verifiably stored on-chain to validate authenticity as a next step. By creating and testing an MVP of processes, documentation, beginning to build a RAC community and ways to learn together across countries and cultures, and producing something useful, we will manage expectations and the next step to on-chain will be more impactful.
It is not building an auditing system, but rather a utility to help make other systems more auditable when they can test against the rules, and possibly even capture the relevant rules in decision logs.
We will develop a simple use case of legal eligibility service for citizens, but the platform will then be available (with good documentation) for anyone across the Cardano ecosystem to encode relevant legislation/regulation they need for other applications, to make these rules reusable across the community.
• Achieved after one month:
• After three months:
• After six months:
The requested budget is for wages and expenses for six months of the project. We will deliver the initial RAC platform with two sets of rules encoded (one domestic and one international) with related documentation so Cardano teams can add their own legislation/regulation to the platform. We will also deliver a small domestic service based on the domestic rules use case (“know your legal eligibility”) as a demonstrator for how to use the platform as an MVP within 6 months, for continuous testing and iteration beyond this funding. The service would immediately be used by a major not for profit social services organisation, immediately benefiting tens of thousands of vulnerable people every day.
• Software Specification & Engineering: $45,000 USD (45%)
• Service Design and User Research: $25,000 USD (25%)
• Technical Writing: $7,000 USD (7%)
• Community Engagement: $5,000 USD (5%)
• Project Management: $7,000 USD (7%)
• Software Services & Server Fees: $1000 x 12 months: $12,000 (11%)
• plus 10% fiduciary sponsorship (https://opencollective.com) and office expenses: $10,100
Budget based on a pro-rata hourly rate spread over up to five team members at any one time. FTE hourly rate of USD$100 adjusted for experience, nature of work, and short term intermittent nature of project.
Further funds will be requested to continue the work beyond this project/period, either through Catalyst or direct funding of the RAC platform (incl. potentially setting up DAO infrastructure).
Our team includes several longstanding Project Catalyst community members, legal, global government and citizens services expertise, along with members of the open-source, open government, global RAC communities:
Pia Andrews (Project Lead and subject matter experts liaison) – Open [govt|source|data|standards|society] geek, with 20 years experience working at the intersection of government, society and technology, in digital or service transformation of government. Established Rules as Code programs in 4 jurisdictions to date with teams in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and Canada, and now establishing a community commons for ANZO. https://twitter.com/piacandrews, http://pipka.org/, https://clik.vc/participatorygovernance, https://clik.vc/aisandyou
Jo Allum (Community development, Network co-ordination/design) – Co-Founder of Venture Centre https://venturecentre.nz, community manager and instigator working with several Project Catalyst communities including Community Governance Oversight, Improve and Grow Auditability, Audit Circle, the emerging Cardano Impact Network (network of networks) with the intention to advance the establishment of the ‘innovation commons’ for common-good. https://twitter.com/jo_allum
Arama Maitara (Intercultural facilitation expert) – Intercultural navigator and facilitator with deep experience in establishing shared ways and equitable co-design towards common goals in multiple countries with multiple cultures. https://twitter.com/arama_mataira
Alfred Deeb (Open Government expert) – An open government and open revolution advocate, Alfred leads an Australian open-source digital innovation company driven by its purpose to help governments become more open, more connected, and more consolidated. https://salsadigital.com.au/about/team/alfred-deeb
Tom Barraclough (Legal lead) - Legal eagle with deep experience in the intersection of technology and law, and co-founder of the Digital Legal Systems Lab in Aotearoa New Zealand. https://twitter.com/Tom_Bcgh, https://clik.vc/lawascode
Hamish Fraser (RAC Platform Lead) - Hamish is a Legislation as Code researcher and practitioner, developer and builder of great and wonderful legal and policy things. Is currently in the process of co-founding the Digital Legal Systems Lab being set up in Aotearoa New Zealand. https://twitter.com/verbman, https://clik.vc/rulesascode, https://clik.vc/hamishrac
Robert O'Brien (Support and Integration) - Distributed Systems Software Engineer (Financial Systems) and Entrepreneur, working on self-sovereign systems for identity, culture, data and governance. Funded proposals in F5/6/7 including Ricardian Contracts, Bonding Curve and Eastern Town Hall community development. https://twitter.com/robertobrien
Sacha Green (CAB liaison) - legal and policy expert, working in the Citizen Advice Bureau New Zealand to help people when they are at their most vulnerable to get the help they need from governments. https://twitter.com/sachakakariki
Siobhan McCarthy (Design Lead) - experienced service designers and user researcher, currently finishing her Masters, with an impressive record in private and public sectors. https://twitter.com/ssibbehh
Brenda Wallace (developer) - experienced developer including with Rules as Code. https://twitter.com/BR3NDA
Progress and development measures
A 6-month project to deliver, success would be measured over 12 months.
1) Engagement with Cardano community and qualtatitive and qualitative research participation.
2) Identification of international use case with global applicability.
3) Documentation of process and practice, challenges and opportunities being updated regularly.
4) Meeting deliverables deadlines (see roadmap/timeline above).
6) 100+ people contributing to the RAC with new leg/reg by 6 months after platform launch.
7) At least 5 applications built on top of the platform.
8) 5000 vulnerable people use the domestic ADpp (directly or indirectly) to identify their legal eligibility for support services within 12 months.
9) A 5% increase in first year of people getting their eligible benefits from domestic DApp.
10) Community engagement with government departments requesting support to improve the explainability and veracity of at least 2 key gov systems.
The project will be successful if it provides utility to its first co-developer/users domestically and international Project Catalyst community members. We will be successful if by both qualitative and quantative measures we have been able to help the Cardano community members we’ve engaged to participate in the pilot, domestically and internationally, to encode regulation and begin to feel confident doing so. We will ask them to qualify using questions such as; Does it help grow Cardano community capability, increase demand for and confidence in RAC as a utility, (rather than hardcoded into systems)? Is the documentation sufficient to provide open digital infrastructure to build upon by anyone?
Success would also see engagement from Institutions working on ADM/AI projects engaged in the project and supporting its continuation, providing for checks and balances for automated decision making and high veracity AI which can be leveraged by research institutes globally.
AI organisations that would love to leverage legislation and regulation as code to ensure more high veracity and more trustworthy use of AI in their DApps engage and contribute to the project and establishment of the platform. They see and value the benefits of ignificantly increasing the agility and 'speed to market' or 'speed to change' of laws/rules.
A developing community of practice and use of the platform in more developing countries to build DApps for the disenfranchised and vulnerable who have suffered from the inequities in developed and developing countries.
Ultimately the project will be deemed successful if it lays the foundation for regulations themselves be verifiably stored on chain to validate authenticity. It would also provide the auditable infrastucture/means to distribute rewards to the contributors to opensource people-powered RAC.
New project. Not previously funded in Catalyst.
SDG goals: Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
SDG subgoals: 16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
Key Performance Indicator (KPI): 16.6.2 Proportion of population satisfied with their last experience of public services
Global Rules-as-Code expert, contract team incl.3-4 dev/design/legals, intercultural, community building, self-sovereign identity & records management/standards expertise + https://veracity.wgtn.ac.nz/, https://salsadigital.com.au, https://www.venturecentre.nz.