I know that there is a topic on generalization of bitcoin already but this is much more broad.
I've posted this elsewhere
but I think it is important that developers read this.
So, here goes:
It is true that each jurisdiction does have different legal definitions and requirements. But Bitcoins are so new they almost need a new way of refering to them and a new legal definition.
Could we come to some sort of agreement here as a community of what bitcoins are and how they should legally be treated, and then go to our individual jurisdiction governments and make them all adopt a common legal treatment? It would require alot of work, but I think the future would thank us. It may be like herding cats, though, I do not have much faith in us coming to a common definition.
I've been thinking about this lately. A much better thing would be if we could build a totally new and independent "distributed governing body"/"direct democracy" functioning on similar principles as bitcoin (being p2p/decentralized, based on "proof of work" - or "peer vouching" term could be more appropriate in this case) or being a part of bitcoin infrastructure.
What I mean is that besides monetary transactions' information floating inside bitcoin network we could also have a sort of identity information, polls/votes information etc.
For example, suppose you want to establish an identity for yourself (which can consist of arbitrary credentials/id-elements like your name, address, ebay-like feedback etc). So you "declare" the specific credentials and then ask people who can confirm them to vouch for you. The more people vouched for your credentials the more "trusted" those credentials are, obviously. (think of number of confirmations for btc transactions)
The identity elements should be stored in encrypted form on the network but should be verifiable via asymmetric encryption. So if someone initiated a vote (see below) for residents of Southpark only those who have an identity with confirmed "city" element which is "Southpart" should be able to cast votes.
Then anyone who has any kind of identity can initiate any kind of vote on anything ("Shall we consider bitcoin legal money", "Is it OK to build a nuclear plant in Southpark?" etc.), specify it's parameters like "only Southpark residents can vote - those with 20+ confirmations of residency in Southpark", only members with 50 confirmations of their name (but names are not revealed) can vote etc.
The enforcement of the votes etc. might be difficult at first but if/when massive amounts of people will vote for something it will become easier.
Interesting side effects/advantages:
You can choose any name you want as long as enough people agree to call you that
You can even have no name if you are not interested in participating in processes (votes etc.) that require it.
This system would not depend on existing political constructs/notions/establishments. (countries/citizenships etc.) Rather that that people will group (by participating in certain processes/votes) by all kinds of criteria.
No need for representative democracy anymore. Cast your votes directly
Same goes for other institutions like courts of law etc. Do not want to participate directly in certain matters or do not feel competent enough? Delegate your vote (on specific matters) to someone. Became unhappy how they use your delegated voice? Revoke it immediately!
Problems to be resolved:
1. How to motivate people to distribute this information? Bitcoin transaction distribution is sustained by mining, but what about non-monetary information? Shall we pay "miners" a "transaction fee" for it?
2. We need a way to deal with identity theft/loss (think of an identity as a wallet). Perhaps rules for some kind of restoration process should be established (through the same "vouching" process described above).
3. The math behind this might be probably even more robust then bitcoin's.
4. What to do with multiple identities? Perhaps we should just let them be (it would be more difficult to get it's elements confirmed anyway), or this should be resolved via a vote at some point.
5. What else did not I think of?