First Digital Marriage Contract e-Signed

July 04, 2016 by

Waiting for the digital wedding to begin on the couch, we drank mimosas out of tumblers and turned our attention to two laptop screens facing the table.

At the critical moment of signing the marriage contract, the groom announced technical difficulties. The ceremony paused as he refreshed the page and the bride petted the whining dog. Everyone held their breath for the mere seconds it took for the digital signature to process, then – voila -  the page reloaded and the 5-minute signing ceremony was complete.

This was a one-of-a-kind smart marriage contract, solemnized during an online signing ceremony and recognized worldwide. It sounds like a futuristic impossibility – but it’s happening right now.

My friends’ marriage heralds a new era where couples may pass on the appointment with the council to get a marriage certificate. Digital marriages can be done through the Estonian government and Bitnation, which distribute digital ID cards that allow e-signing such contracts.

This kind of marriage is likely to appeal to libertarian anarchists who see new internet technologies as "hacking the state,” using web-based functions to replace basic functions of government on its path to obsolescence. They believe they are riding the wave of technology towards a fairer future with less governmental supervision and interference.

The e-wedding contract I saw signed is intended to be enforced like a pre-nup under civil law. It does not register the couple as married with any government – and couples need solid legal advice when writing their e-wedding contracts to ensure they work in the jurisdiction of their choice if anything does happen in the future.

Instead we might hope digital marriages will operate in the neutral, non-culturally-specific space of international law, globalising culture and deterring nationalism. In the long term, they might help reform intolerance as more culturally diverse marriages are seen.

In the future we might see, for example, UK recognition of Islamic Sharia law marriages, humanist marriages, and gender-neutral marriages. Gay marriage contracts could even be e-signed in parts of the UK and its territories where gay marriage is not recognised, like Northern Ireland, according to blockchain lawyer Adam Vaziri.

“Technology changes faster than regulation, and you need just one initiative to be successful to create a domino effect across governments,” Vaziri told me, when I asked him about the effect these digital marriages might have. My friends are happy after their digital wedding day – but will this precedent change the world? We’ll have to wait and see

Read the original article: I just attended the first stateless marriage

Image Credit: Straight Outta Tunisia