The U.K. government’s chief scientist is urging ministers there to consider adopting Bitcoin’s blockchain technology for use in the private and public sectors, saying it could be used as a more reliable way to deliver services than the current, centralized systems they have in place.
The Bitcoin blockchain is the best example of how a distributed ledger works, keeping a record of all Bitcoin transactions ever made. New transactions are instantly added to the ledger, which is protected using cryptography to ensure unauthorized modifications cannot be made.
Now, U.K. government scientist Sir Mark Walport argues in a new report, Distributed ledger technology: beyond block chain, that the technology has “the potential to redefine the relationship between government and the citizen in terms of data sharing, transparency and trust” and would make a “leading contribution” to the U.K. government’s plans for digital transformation.
According to Sir Walport, blockchain technology can be used for services such as issuing passports, delivering benefits, collecting taxes, assuring supply chains and other government records. He also recommends the country’s National Health Service (NHS) adopt blockchain technology to share and secure medical records in a secure fashion.
In his report, Sir Walport notes the importance of the financial and services sectors to the U.K.’s economy, and argues that it’s essential the country positions itself at the cutting edge of blockchain technology development. To do so, he recommends a number of steps to be taken, including the establishment of guidelines on blockchain governance, privacy, security and standards, before the establishment of public trials, and more investment into researching the technology.
Further research will be necessary because the report notes that a “series of grand challenges” need to be overcome before blockchain technology can be successfully implemented, Sir Walport writes. For example, he warns of the dangers of someone being able to introduce a “seemingly legitimate” change into the system that would be modified across all copies of the ledger.
“Ensuring the security of distributed ledgers is an important task and part of the general challenge of ensuring the security of the digital infrastructure on which modern societies now depend,” it says in the report.
As such, Sir Walport advocates a close partnership between public and private sectors to develop blockchain technology and realize the “huge opportunity” it presents.