A major report on distributed ledgers was published today by the UK Government Chief Scientist, Sir Mark Walport, to educate politicians on the capabilities of the technology. The report proclaims that Bitcoin was just the first incarnation of a blockchain and since then the technology has evolved and expanded to many fields such as the diamond markets and the disbursing of international aid payments.
The report explains how distributed ledgers could help the government to reduce fraud, errors and bureaucracy. It says the technology also has the potential to provide new ways of assuring ownership and provenance for goods and intellectual property.
Sir Mark Walport said: “Distributed ledger technology has the potential to transform the delivery of public and private services. It has the potential to redefine the relationship between government and the citizen in terms of data sharing, transparency and trust and make a leading contribution to the government’s digital transformation plan.
Any new technology creates challenges, but with the right mix of leadership, collaboration and sound governance, distributed ledgers could yield significant benefits for the UK.”
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The report makes a number of recommendations, including:
- government should provide ministerial leadership to ensure that it provides the vision, leadership and the platform for distributed ledger technology within government; this group should consider governance, privacy, security and standards
- government should establish trials of distributed ledgers in order to assess the technology’s usability within the public sector
- 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
- 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
The Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, commented: “Government wants to make sure the UK is at the forefront of using emerging technology to improve public services. Sir Mark’s report clearly sets out how we can use these new tools to transform and streamline their delivery.”
The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, Matt Hancock, added: “Digital transformation is central to our reform of the public sector, helping deliver better services at a much lower cost and improving the relationship between the citizen and the state. With our world-class digital capability and strong research community, the UK is well placed to reap the potential benefits of distributed ledger technology.”
The Government Office for Science also made a short video to accompany the report: