The Government Digital Service blog of the UK government actively blogs on registers, their maintenance, the accuracy and transparency of data in registers and data integration in the registers. UK government has been researching ways to make their registers the authoritative lists everyone can trust. Recently, it expressed an interest via its blog in using the blockchain technology for maintaining all their registers.
According to the UK Government Digital Services and their research on registers, the problems with all the registers is that they are all held and maintained differently:
“Services have no standardised way of accessing the data in these lists so they need to develop bespoke software to do it. Where a snapshot of a list is periodically published, a service may need to notice there’s a new list, and then download and process a copy. Not having direct access to the data through an API introduces potential errors, and a lag between a change to the data being available to users of the service.”
They also mentioned data integrity and referencing problems in registers. Since there is no standard usage of names and formats, citations are not possible to increase the authenticity of the data. The current process of maintaining an updated register is cumbersome. The registrar has to periodically update the lists and upload it on the Gov.uk site.
The UK Government wants to conclusively make the registers perfect where data hasn’t been tampered. For this purpose, they have been researching blockchain technology for keeping their registers clean, transparent and interconnected. In their recent blog, the author mentioned:
“Technically we are aware of how protocols such as the blockchain demonstrate how proofs could be distributed, and certificate transparency demonstrates how to use distributed copies to highlight where a canonical source of truth has been tampered with, but these are only two of a number of different models for increasing the trust in integrity of records we've started to explore.”
This definitely implies that they are doubling down on research around blockchain. However, a recent retweet of the tweet below by the author (Paul Downey) of same blog adds some confusion.
Govn registers ≠ "blockchain'. Though they should be immutable, append-only & verifiable, legislation still vip: https://t.co/LJzgraqsIN
— Tom Loosemore (@tomskitomski) September 1, 2015
Will the UK Government adopt blockchain or not? May be; may be not!. However, the amount of research done on the blockchain technology globally is vast. The technology will rise at some point and it might actually become a necessity for managing data and transactions of all kinds in the near future.