A summary of each section of the Law of Chains is provided below. This is only an overview – you can read the full Law of Chains draft here.
Before diving in, a clarifying note on reading the Law of Chains in context:
The Law of Chains is not a procedural specification or playbook for Optimism Governance to enact decisions in a multi-chain context. Instead, it is a neutrality framework intended to reliably inform governance decisions.
If adopted, the Law of Chains will be appended as an addendum to the Working Constitution. Just as the Operating Manual specifies governance procedures for implementing the Working Constitution, equivalent procedures will be developed for Optimism Governance to implement the Law of Chains. For example, a process for sequencer additional or removal will be presented.
That procedural specification is an item for future work, and is not covered by the Law of Chains (or this summary) directly.
Introduction: The Law of Chains is:
- An open neutrality framework that promotes core principles of user protection, decentralization and economic autonomy as foundations for the developing Superchain.
- A living document, intended to evolve alongside protocol innovation over time.
- Not a legal contract, but guidance intended to be enforced socially by Optimism Governance.
Sec. 1 – Covered Participants: The Law of Chains covers three groups of ecosystem participants: Users, Chain Governors, and Chain Servicers.
- Users: end users, developers, and deployers of OP Chain smart contracts and applications.
- Chain Governors: the party or smart contract responsible for deploying an OP Chain or configuring an OP Chain following deployment.
- Chain Servicers: Sequencers, Proposers, and Challengers for an OP Chain.
The identity or scope of Covered Participants may change over time and a single party may be a Covered Participant in multiple capacities.
Sec. 2 – The Platform: The Law of Chains also covers the Platform itself, which is the fundamental protocol for OP Chains (and, in the future, the Superchain).
Sec. 3 – User Protections: Users’ assurances should be (a) highly similar to those afforded to users of Ethereum and (b) as uniform as possible for all Users across all OP Chains. This includes assurances around state transition and messaging validity; security, uptime, and liveness; and universal, Optimism Governance-approved upgrades.
- Creates predictable, homogenous blockspace across all participating OP Chains.
- Also commits Chain Governors and Chain Servicers to solely voluntary user migrations if moving to a technical stack that is not the OP Stack.
Sec. 4 – Chain Governor Protections: The configuration choices afforded to Chain Governors should preserve their ability to make free economic choices in the marketplace within established parameters, and to implement the basic technical configurations permitted to them by the OP Stack. Chain Governors also should not be deprived of economic reward that resulted from legitimate conduct.
- Among other things, this affirms the ability of a Chain Governor to run a single-sequencer sequencing scheme and set a configurable profit margin for it.
Sec. 5 – Chain Servicer Protections: Similar to Chain Governors, the participatory expectations of Chain Services should be preserved, especially as they pertain to protocol economics and configurability. For instance, a Chain Servicer should be able to respond to changes in transaction margins made by Chain Governors on chains which they sequence.
Sec. 6 – Platform as Commons: The Platform is a fundamental public good for all ecosystem participants, and its Requirements, including sustainability, security, and survival, must be preserved. The Collective should thoroughly consider decisions pertaining to these Platform Requirements, as the downstream consequences could be significant and multifaceted.
Sec. 7 – Users First: User Protections are prioritized. If there is a conflict between the protections afforded to Users and those afforded to Chain Governors or Servicers, User Protections predominate.
Sec. 8 – Enforcement: The Law of Chains is intended to be enforced solely through resolutions of Optimism Governance. Governance may use protocol upgrades, or other governance processes, to remedy violations and promote compliance. For example, Sequencers that violate User Protections may be removed.
Sec. 9 – Interpretation: It will not always be clear how the Law of Chains should apply to a given situation. To assist Optimism Governance and the broader Collective in this exercise, some guiding interpretative principles are provided. Among others, these principles include:
- Governance minimization: While the Law of Chains will initially require an amount of manual intervention, when possible, algorithmic protections (e.g., via the introduction of permissionless fault proofs) should be strongly favored over those which require action by specific stakeholders or by Optimism Governance itself.
- Long-term applicability: As the Law of Chains is applied to changing future circumstances, Optimism Governance should be empowered to make changes to protocol specifics, even if they technically contradict specific examples in the Law of Chains, so long as they preserve the intent of relevant Participant Protections and the underlying purpose of the document.
Sec. 10 – Always: Stay Optimistic .