Despite wariness surrounding blockchain, it is already been used in government – but how efficient and secure is it, really?
Blockchain has a variety of uses in government, including:
- Confidential document storage and transfer
- Financial transactions
And governments internationally seem to be getting the message. The Canadian government conducted their first trial of public blockchain technology in early 2018. Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull encouraged investigation of blockchain uses in government in May. The United Arab Emirates launched their ‘UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021’ in April with the goal of having blockchain implemented in government by 2021.
So, blockchain certainly seems popular in government. It has a multitude of uses and has even had real-world use cases. But is it really suited for government use?
Blockchain is founded on being an immutable, decentralised software. Thing is: like anything, it’s not completely indestructible. Like any software, it can be attacked. But it’s a whole lot safer than what most software companies are using right now.
Lack of standardisation and potential for risk has given blockchain a bad name. This, in turn, has caused many government bodies to be unconvinced by blockchain. Right now, it’s hard for blockchain – in its development stages – to stand up against established, evolved technologies.
This doesn’t mean it has to lose out to them, though.
Trust in Government
Blockchain provides a trusting and equal relationship between two different bodies. They know that the information on the blockchain is correct, and any changes are visible to the entire network. On the blockchain, you can never actually remove information – you can only visibly add to it. Information that is on the blockchain is there, well, forever.
This means that government documents can be preserved and transferred without worry about tampering. It could also mean secure voting systems, where citizens can be confident that their votes are permanent and confidential.
Blockchain conforms to privacy laws, by ensuring data is compliant to international policies.
The other benefit of blockchain in government: smart contracts. Smart contracts will always execute when the conditions of the contract are met. This is different to traditional contracts, where either company might go back on their word or the information might be misleading. Smart-contracts are self-executing, which means there is no need for intermediaries, and the conditions must be agreed upon by both bodies. They seem perfect for governmental use.
Will it actually happen?
With international authorities already bringing blockchain into government, things look promising. Blockchain technologies are still young. There is so much more room for innovation – and more room for failure. Like any nascent technology, blockchain will face difficulties before it becomes widely implemented.
With time, though, blockchain could be the foundation of every government in the world.