Ohio has become the latest U.S. state to legally recognize data stored and transacted on a blockchain.
The news comes after lawmakers from the state introduced a bill in May that sought to treat blockchain data and smart contracts as electronic records in a bid to provide safe harbor for the emerging technology.
Part of the wording from that bill (SB 300) was later incorporated into legislation (SB200), which was approved by the state's senate in June and finally signed by the governor into Ohio law on Friday, according to a release published Monday.
As passed, Ohio's Uniform Electronic Transactions Act has been amended from the prior version to state that "a record or contract that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic record."
Electronic signatures secured through blockchain technology are also considered to have the same legal standing as any other electronic signatures defined under the act.
However, initially proposed language to amend the law to recognize smart contracts has been omitted from the passed bill.
SB 300 originally suggested making it clear that electronic contracts can't be denied legal effect or enforceability just "because the contract contains a smart contracts term" – wording would have cleared the way for smart contracts to be used for legal documents in the state.
Elsewhere in the U.S., the state of Arizona has also passed a bill recognizing the legal status of data stored and transacted on a blockchain, while politicians in California have been working on a similar piece of legislation since February.
However, the states of Florida and Nebraska have both postponed their proposed bills indefinitely.