Blockchains are data records stored in online ‘blocks’ of information that are linked together by cryptography and hard to modify. The reason for this is that they are usually chains of sensitive data and the fact that they are encrypted and distributed across multiple computers rather than stored on one server makes criminal tampering with them almost impossible. This has led to many businesses using the tech and governments are now also getting on board with it.
The Isle of Man
One of the Isle of Man government’s four executive agencies, Digital Isle of Man, now has a sandbox and office for blockchain up and running. The government wants to attract high ranking blockchain businesses to the island, in addition to top cryptocurrency exchanges, and sees the launch of this initiative as a way to signal that intent. It is also now a member of the British Blockchain Association and the office will help blockchain platforms to meet regulations and legislative requirements during the design phase.
The Government in the UK is also beginning to explore the potential of blockchain tech, with the Food Standard Agency having used it as a way of tracking meat distribution in a slaughterhouse last summer. This pilot was the first active deployment of it by the UK government, but there are set to be further trials. In one example, the DWP is considering implementing it for people claiming benefits, to see if it would make money management easier for them.
Blockchain tech is pretty well established at state level in Estonia, as it is at the core of the programme for connecting state services called E-Estonia. This platform unites code registries for the nation’s commerce, legal and healthcare data in one place, with a blockchain being used to store it. This has been very successful for the Estonian government and may eventually be adopted by other countries.
Members of Parliament in France are calling on the government to capitalise on the growing popularity of blockchain there by investing 500 million Euros across three years to ensure France takes the lead in attracting blockchain businesses. A report published last year also suggested that the French government launch a digital currency that would significantly increase the number of blockchain transactions.
The US is usually one of the early adopters of new tech, but it has been slow to move on blockchain. However a programme is now being piloted by the Treasury Department for the use of this tech in the management of supply chains. The US also now has the Federal Blockchain programme, which was set up to let companies and agencies explore ways that this tech could be used to improve government services in the future.
Some governments are already using blockchain technology, while others are looking into how it can be of benefit to them and their citizens, so we can expect to see it become more central to global government services.