A recent report by Reform, an independent think tank in the UK, recommends that the UK government use Blockchain technology to manage the personal data of its citizens. One of the opening statements of the report reads:
“Government should use Blockchain technology to make identity management more secure and efficient.”
According to the report, a new Blockchain-based model of identity management would put citizens in control of their own personal data, fundamentally altering the current state-citizen relationship:
“This new model would reimagine the relationship between state and individual, as government would become the verifier, rather than the controller, of people’s public service identity.”
Room for improvement
Reform say that the government has already attempted to decentralize their identity management with the introduction of GOV.UK Verify, a service that lets citizens verify their identity when accessing a government service by choosing from a list of certified companies.
However, Reform claims that there are problems with this system, citing its inefficiency and namely the fact that government still controls citizens’ personal data.
Reform’s report details how Blockchain technology could be used by the UK government to increase efficiency and security. The distributed nature of Blockchain would both allow data to be stored more securely and would shift identity ownership from government to individual citizens.
Reform notes the potential impact a Blockchain-based model would have on the relationship between state and citizen, stating:
“This model requires a radical shift in the role of government. Government would move from providing data storage to verifying identity.”
In the report they also clarify that, given the sensitive nature of personal data management, the government would use a permissioned Blockchain, meaning it would own the network and control who is allowed to access and join it.
UK government reports on Blockchain
The House of Lords report followed another major report on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) from the UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, published back in January.
The January report identifies the potential benefits of Blockchain technology for UK citizens and the economy, stating specifically:
“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.”