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UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser Calls For Adoption Of Blockchain Technology

Sir Mark Walport, UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, in a report entitled “Distributed Ledger Technology: beyond block chain”, has recommended that the government should provide ministerial leadership to ensure that government provides the vision, leadership and the platform for distributed ledger technology within government.

“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.

Walport emphasizes that the development of the blockchain technology is an important step towards a “disruptive revolution” in ledger technology that could transform the operations of public and private sector organizations.

However, he added, “For government applications, ‘permissioned’ ledgers are likely to be more appealing than Bitcoin’s unpermissioned model, because they allow the owner, or owners, of the data to enforce rules on who is and is not allowed to use the system.”

The report also recommends that the UK research community should invest in the research required to ensure that distributed ledgers are “scalable, secure and provide proof of correctness of their contents.” Moreover, it also suggested that the government could support the creation of distributed ledger demonstrators for local government that will bring together all the elements necessary to test the technology and its application.

Walport further called for a regulatory framework for distributed ledger technology. He said that as part of the consideration of regulation, government should also consider how regulatory goals could be achieved using technical as well as legal code.

Speaking of security and privacy, he said that the government needs to work with academia and industry to ensure that standards are set for the integrity, security and privacy of distributed ledgers and their contents, which should be reflected in both regulatory and software code. This in turn will be used to ensure that the most effective and usable identification and authentication protocols are implemented for both individuals and organisations.

“We recommend the establishment of a cross-government community of interest, bringing together the analytical and policy communities, to generate and develop potential ‘use cases’ and create a body of knowledge and expertise within the civil service”, the report said. “There are important opportunities for government to stimulate the business sector by acting as a smart customer in procuring distributed ledger applications.”

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