Government urged to switch to blockchains

Security computer

The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport has suggested the government should start using blockchains to run many of its monetary and security services, including tax collection, benefits and issuing passports.

The tech, which is also used by digital currency Bitcoin, would enable the government to be more secure when managing money and highly confidential information.

Blockchains digitise the information in traditional ledgers and are then shared by all the computers that access them across a network, making records permanent rather than only activated when the data is transferred. Private blockchains can only be accessed by the systems granted access and are therefore protected against malicious tampering, making it a highly secure option for the government.

The suggestion was made in a report, which examined how blockchains can be used by a wide variety of government services.

"Distributed ledger technologies have the potential to help governments to collect taxes, deliver benefits, issue passports, record land registries, assure the supply chain of goods and generally ensure the integrity of government records and services," the report said.

"In the NHS, the technology offers the potential to improve health care by improving and authenticating the delivery of services and by sharing records securely, according to exact rules."

As it stands, the way the government manages data - especially related to secure transactions - it not protected enough, Walport said. He added that using a centralised system as is currently the case could cause many of the services already digitised to fail.

The report suggested the government starts trialling digital ledger technology to see whether it can be used effectively.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.