One of the principles guiding UNCITRAL in its works in electronic commerce is the principle of technology neutrality or technological neutrality, which means that the law should neither require nor assume the use of a particular technology for communicating or storing information electronically. The principle helps ensure that the law is able to accommodate future developments. Thus, blockchain technology, though not yet invented when those instruments were created, is not excluded from their scope of application.
It follows that under the Electronic Commerce Model Law, admissibility in evidence or other legal effect may not be denied to information solely on the ground that it is in the form of a data message stored in a blockchain (See Articles 5 and 9). Where only a hash value of information is stored in a blockchain, legal validity may not be denied to the information provided that it is referred to in the data message stored in the blockchain (See Article 5 bis added in 1998). In the context of contracts, an offer and the acceptance of an offer may be expressed by means of data messages on a blockchain (See Article 11 as affirmed by Article 8 of the Electronic Communications Convention). The performance of contractual obligations are also subject to the Model Law and the Convention. This has a particular relevance to a “smart contract,” a contract which can be automatically executed on a blockchain as programmed. Thus, where the communication of data messages such as notices of receipt of services, notices of failure to perform or notices of termination are programmed by a smart contract, they may not be denied legal effect solely on the ground that it is in the form of a data message (See Article 12 of the Model Law; Article 4(a) and Article 8 of the Convention). Article 12 of the Convention only mentions the formation of contract but the enacting States may wish to extend the idea to the phase of performance to cater for a smart contract. Thus, they may stipulate that the performance of a contract by an automated system may not be denied effect on the sole ground that no natural person intervened in each of the individual actions carried out by the automated system.
The principle of technological neutrality does not mean that any technology can create a data message which satisfies the paper-based requirements such as those of writing and signature. Only the technology capable of fulfilling the purposes and functions of the paper-based requirements can create a data message which is deemed to meet those requirements. This is called the principle of functional equivalence, another principle underlying the UNCITRAL works in electronic commerce. Thus, the Electronic Commerce Model Law sets out the conditions which a data message must meet to fulfill the purposes and functions of the paper-based requirements of writing and signature (Articles 6 and 7). The Electronic Signature Model Law elaborates on the conditions for the signature requirement. A data message stored in a blockchain is deemed to meet the requirements of writing and signature if it satisfies the respective conditions. The Electronic Commerce Model Law also provides that there must exist a reliable assurance as to the integrity of information contained in a data message before the information is deemed to satisfy the paper-based requirement that it be presented in its original form (Article 8). The blockchain technology is particularly apt to provide a reliable assurance as to the integrity of information since it is censorship resistant.
 See the Guide to Enactment of the Electronic Signatures Model Law (2001) para 5; the preamble of the Electronic Communications Convention. In the context of the Electronic Commerce Model Law, the expression “media-neutral” is used to convey the same idea (See the Guide to Enactment of the Electronic Commerce Model Law (1996) para 24). Only later, has that expression come to be understood as referring to non-discrimination between paper and electronic media (See the Guide to Enactment of the Electronic Signatures Model Law (2001) para 5).