Most of the debates involving Blockchain Technologies revolves around its use as a tool for financial innovation and in private scope, while its applications for public interest are often underestimated and seldom discussed, even though they are many.
The power of the Blockchain in public interest resides its simultaneous offer of transparency, trust and privacy: elements desired by any citizen in its government. The impossibility of violation or changing of registries, its public but anonymized nature and its inherent decentralization make the Blockchain a powerful tool to be adopted by governments and other non-profit organizations.
Beyond the classical example of the use of Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) in notary services, a series of other applications may be of great value for the public interest. In some countries, like Estonia, concrete initiatives have been undertaken that make use of the Blockchain and which have demonstrated positive and solid results. Brazil hasn’t lagged much behind, and has been trying to adopt the technology for similar ends.
In this post, we will talk about a bit of the Estonian experience and the first steps in Brazil regarding the adoption of Blockchain technologies for e-Governments and for the public interest.
The Estonian e-Government System
Estonia is a pioneer country when it comes to the adoption of new technologies both by the market and by the government. The so-called ‘e-Estonia’ movement reflects a trend of modernization and adoption of by the Estonian government since the beginning of the 90’s, when the country gained its independence from the Soviet Union. Until then a technologically lagged country, the baltic state managed to catch up with global powers in a few years when it comes to Internet penetration and technological adoption.
During the last decade, the government began to offer a wide array of services entirely through electronic means, and the most famous of them is the ‘Estonian e-Residency’: a system of electronic residence accessible by any person in the world. Launched in 2014, the system allows for the creation of an unique digital identity: non-residents in the country can request a smart card issued by the State which gives them access to different e-Estonian public services. These services allow the e-Estonian to:
- Register their companies online;
- Sign documents digitally
- Exchange encrypted documents
- Report online to the business register
- Conduct online bank transfers;
- Declare taxes online
- Submit annual reports online
On the basis of this system is the KSI Blockchain, an industrial Blockchain used to guarantee the integrity and security of registries, identities, transactions and data privacy of its users.
Mudamos, an app developed by the Institute for Technology and Society of Rio de Janeiro, allows for the collection of digital signatures for popular initiative bills in Brazil.
In Brazil, popular initiative bills, in which any citizen might submit a bill for Congress to vote, have prerequisites that make its proper use quite difficult and exclusive. Among many, they require the signatures of at least 1% of the national electorate, in a certain geographic distribution that, for a country of the size of Brazil, make popular initiatives such a complex process, demanding such a degree of organization at federal level, that can hardly be considered truly popular.
Making use of the Internet and of the Blockchain to ensure the authenticity of signatures, the app makes the collection of signatures at federal level a lot easier. With just a Name, Social Security Number and Electoral Number, anyone can use the app to sign a popular initiative bill.
Mudamos uses Bitcoin’s Blockchain to ensure any data generated by the app are not changed or frauded afterwards, guaranteeing greater integrity and transparency to the whole process.
Other governments also deserve attention for their use of Blockchain in public services.
The government of Georgia was the first to adopt the technology for the public registry of lands. Honduras and Peru have also developed similar initiatives. These three countries have something in common: All of them have long-term problems with fraud of property titles.
Dubai’s government has developed its own national strategy for Blockchain in the government, with intended use for public documents and visas, registering of new businesses and smart management of energy, among others. O uso de DLTs por parte de governos só tende a aumentar.
The transparent and secure registry of information is a great attractive for democratic institutions in the 21st Century, which are already so lacking in trust and acceptance by citizens.