Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has applied to patent a blockchain system that allows a third-party administrator to execute “special transactions” such as halting a smart contract or freezing an account linked to illegal activity.
In particular, the Alibaba researchers expressed concern that standard smart contracts do not provide legal authorities with a general ability to freeze user accounts associated with illegal transactions or otherwise facilitate administrative intervention in a blockchain network.
Under Alibaba’s proposed blockchain system, dedicated administrator accounts would have the ability to send so-called “special transactions” to nodes, which then invoke a smart contract to perform operating instructions on a particular account.
In one potential embodiment, the blockchain creator could issue an account to a government agency that allowed the agency to invoke a smart contract that performs a predefined set of interventions corresponding to their legal or regulatory mandate.
Alibaba’s proposed system would not only reduce the complexity associated with giving administrators extraordinary privileges but would also give them the ability to perform these actions over the entire network, not just on a particular token or smart contract.
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