Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce conglomerate, has filed a patent application for a blockchain-based system with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Intervening in a smart contract
According to a report published by the USPTO on Oct. 4, the blockchain-based system filed for by Alibaba will make it possible for third-party administrators to intervene in a smart contract in cases where illegal activities are involved.
A smart contract is a computer protocol made for digital verification and enforcement in terms of negotiation and performance of a contract. They are meant to be self-executing based on an agreed upon real-world outcome written in the code.
Detailing the blockchain powered transaction
The patent document that was first filed in March offers details of a blockchain powered transaction method, whereby authorized parties can halt or freeze user accounts that are suspected to be dealing in illegal activities.
The document’s authors have laid emphasis on the various advantages of blockchain technology, such as its unchangeability, openness, and decentralisation. However, they are also quick to clarify that the technology is yet to offer conditions that will make it workable in unique cases in a live environment. The patent notes:
In real life, however, there is a type of administrative intervention activities in the category of special transactions. For example, when a user performs illegal activities, a court order may be executed to freeze the user’s account. However, this operation activity conflicts with smart contracts in existing blockchains and cannot be carried out.
Effective administrative supervision
The patent’s main aim is to come up with a system that will see effective administrative supervision for all accounts available in a blockchain network, even as the extent of supervisions will be limited, so as not to deter usual transactions conducted in the blockchain network.
[…] upon receiving an operation instruction sent from a designated account, a node in a blockchain network can invoke a corresponding smart contract when determining that the operation instruction is issued legally, to execute corresponding operations on an account corresponding to the to-be-operated account information, which achieves a goal of supervision on accounts in the blockchain and solves the problem of processing special transactions like administrative intervention in a blockchain.”
Notably, this new form of smart contract is far more complicated compared to normal smart contracts. However, the new technology from Alibaba is expected to expand an administrator’s ability across an entire network if possible.