The UK government is exploring the possibility of using blockchain technology to improve the accuracy and transparency of its recordkeeping.
In a blog post, Paul Downey of UK’s Government Digital Service explained how his team has been looking at ways to they can improve registers, possibly with blockchain.
“We’ve spent a lot of time looking at a large number of such lists, and what’s become apparent is that they’re all held and maintained quite differently,” Downey wrote. “That causes problems.”
Currently, the government has three different kinds of registers: open registers, which contain public data; closed registers that will ask users to pay a fee or provide a token before accessing the data; and the private registers that contain sensitive information.
However, Downey said these registers are facing technical difficulties. One problem is the delay between the changes made to data on a register and that change becoming available to the users.
“Where a snapshot of a list is periodically published, a service may need to notice there’s a new list, and then download and process a copy. Not having direct access to the data through an API [application programming interface] introduces potential errors, and a lag between a change to the data being available to users of the service,” he explained.
This is where blockchain comes in. Blockchain is a shared database that’s capable of maintaining a growing list of data records, while also protecting it from tampering and uninvited revisions.
“We are aware of how protocols such as the blockchain demonstrate how proofs could be distributed, and certificate transparency demonstrates how to use distributed copies to highlight where a canonical source of truth has been tampered with,” Downey said, in response to a comment on the blog post. “These are only two of a number of different models for increasing the trust in integrity of record we’ve started to explore.”
Downey and his team’s proposal is already receiving nods from members of the digital currency community in the UK.
CoinDesk quoted a spokesperson for the UK Digital Currency Association who said, “In the developing world, the blockchain is a necessity to regularize title and ownership; in the developed, it is all about efficiency and ease of access.”