Category Archives: government

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Chinese Justice Department Uses Blockchain to Track Parolees

Officials in the southern Chinese city of Zhongshan have instituted a blockchain system to track the movements of those on parole in the district.

The new blockchain network is said to improve the quality of community correction that the justice department can serve, upgrading its ability to track parolees activities around the clock. Monitoring the community prisoners previously had restrictions imposed, including regional and time constraints. The blockchain system, however, lets officials view data at any time from any location.

Changes to the electronic bracelets mean that wearers are no longer required to regularly report their own activities or require officers to make visits to check up on them, meaning less friction is created between parolee and officer.

The new blockchain system also employs data analysis that can detect the possibility of criminals re-offending through sharing the action trajectory and situation of the community prisoners with the Department of Justice. An analysis is done through an accumulative data check of the behavioral tendencies of the parolees and their current situation. If there are any indications that re-offending may occur, staff are triggered to make an early intervention and prevent any criminal activities from occurring.

In this specific use case for blockchain, the Chinese government is able to reduce the manpower required to supervise the offenders, creating both financial savings and preventing potential situations of conflict. Whether it is able to actually reduce the number of re-offending parolees is still a question as the network was only rolled out this month, but the potential to do so is certainly there.

It is not just the government in China committed to developing fresh blockchain solutions; a recent study shows that last year China was responsible for 56% of the world’s blockchain patent applications, with Chinese multinational holding conglomerate Alibaba claiming 10% of the overall total. The study also indicates that the number of blockchain patent filings has increased from just 134 in 2016, to 406 in 2017.

 

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Brazilian Government Inspects Activities of Local Crypto Exchanges

In an apparent government crackdown on corruption and money laundering, Brazilian cryptocurrency exchanges have been given a 14-point survey to fill out detailing a number of areas in their operations.

Local news outlet Portal do Bitcoin covered the incident in an exclusive piece after obtaining a copy of the document that was served to the exchanges, despite the message being signed by the prosecutor Ana Paula Bez Batti warning that the dissemination of the message is prohibited by law.

The questionnaire covers a number of topics that will supposedly contribute to the study of combating corruption and money laundering in Brazil, and covers topics including compliance issues, limits offered to customers in relation to declared income, control over the number of operations, control over the originator’s identification, hashes of the portfolios and data of the partners themselves.

Question 10, for example, reads: ”Does the Crypto-Exchange trade popular crypto-coins for their anonymity, such as Monero, Dash and Zcash?” most likely querying these coins in particular as they are notably more difficult to trace ownership of. Other questions were more direct, such as number six: ” What measures, if any, does Crypto-Exchange take to mitigate risks related to money laundering and terrorist financing?”

The Ministry of Finance supposedly issued the questions as part of a stealth dossier “to protect the integrity of the financial system”. Each brokerage was notified they had five days to respond, with the data promised to be kept entirely confidential.

What do the exchanges say?

Portal do Bitcoin contacted three of the countries top 10 exchanges by trading volume, each giving a different response to how they are handling the situation and each wished to remain anonymous. One has been fully compliant, answering each question and has already sent its response. Another claims they do not know if they have received it but are looking onto all possible communication channels.

The final exchange to comment said they do not have any plans to respond to the survey, as it was not sent as an official document from the Brazilian government but rather sent through its contact form. As most inquiry forms on similar platforms send an automated reply, it is unlikely they will be able to claim they never received the survey when the government approaches them.

 

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US Senate to Review Blockchain Energy Efficiency

The US Senate is preparing for another blockchain hearing next week, this time to discuss its energy efficiency and implications.

The 23-member Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold the “Energy Efficiency of Blockchain and Similar Technologies” hearing on 21August to discuss the issues and practical implications of its widespread adoption on the energy sector.

A specific focus will be placed on the potential increase in energy consumption and subsequent electricity price rises, with the discussion based on estimating the most likely outcomes in the near future as the technology evolves.

The committee will also consider similar decentralized technologies, focusing also on the cybersecurity possibilities for energy industry applications. It will debate considering how blockchain could, in fact, be used to improve the security of computing systems that supply energy across the country.

This appears to be the first committee meeting from the Senate to explicitly discuss blockchains role and future in the energy sector.

The entirety of the hearing will be broadcast live on the committee’s website via webcam, with witness testimony also available on the site from the start of the hearing.

Renewable energy in blockchain

While Bitcoin has received criticism over the accused unsustainability of the mining process as was the case in Washington State recently, there is a significant movement in the community to develop a climate responsible solution to the problems of energy consumption.

A Lichtenstein-based startup called Solareum has developed a decentralized marketplace platform for renewables, with an aim to make solar energy more readily available and affordable to people internationally.

Another blockchain project, HashByte, allows users to rent hash-power from companies to limit wastefulness, as well opening up its own centers across Europe that utilize only renewable energy in their operations.

Unfortunately, the Senate has a poor record when it comes to staying fully up to date and informed on the most recent cases in technology as recently seen in the now notorious interview with Mark Zuckerberg, so blockchain advocates can only hope they have done their research this time.

 

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India Investigates Replacing Smart Travel Cards with Crypto Tokens

The Indian government is currently in the midst of reviewing the viability of substituting smart travel cards for its own central-bank issued crypto tokens.

A senior official from the country’s finance ministry and a member of the committee undertaking applicability research for the crypto token said that the committee is currently researching the use of a custom blockchain-backed crypto token to replace smart cards in the public sector, such as the metro card.

Also in the private sector, they are looking to include the tokens in such areas as air mile loyalty programs where they cannot be converted back into fiat money, he said.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) was first established early last year by the Ministry of Finance and constitutes members from India’s taxation authority and India’s Department of Economic Affairs (DoEA), as well as representatives from India’s central bank, the State Bank of India, and several other government departments.

The IMC has also been charged with producing a regulatory road map for the cryptocurrency space and is responsible for determining the usability of crypto tokens in the public sector, partly by studying international and governmental policies and legal framework regarding cryptocurrency.

The committee has been requested to find specific measures used by governments to curb money laundering activities via crypto.

India’s own crypto token

As reported by Bitcoin News on Monday, the Indian government is in the midst of implementing a crypto token specifically for financial transactions, stressing this as different to cryptocurrencies which are currently all banned in the country.

The tokens would differ specifically from cryptocurrencies as they would be a means of executing financial transactions exclusively in India.

The president of the Digital Lenders Association of India detailed that people would have to pay for these tokens with physical money should they be instituted, removing any impact on the country’s monetary policy.

 

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World’s Largest Archive Testing Blockchain for Record Management

The National Archives (TNA), entrusted with national record management of the UK government, is on the verge of testing the blockchain for record keeping and sharing. The project, termed Archangel, is meant to investigate the use of blockchain to address archiving challenges faced by TNA.

The world’s first archiving research project on blockchain is led by the University of Surrey and bankrolled by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Reports indicate that the council of research spend USD 800 million on research projects related to technology, mathematics, and material science annually. Additionally, the Open Data Institute is another key partner with an interest in project Archangel.

On Tuesday, Alex Green, the digital preservation services manager, wrote in a blog post:

”How can we demonstrate that the record you see today is the same record that was entrusted to the archive 20 years previously? …How do we ensure that citizens continue to see archives as trusted custodians of the digital public record? To address these questions, Archangel is exploring how we can know that a digital record has been modified and whether the change was legitimate so that ultimately it can still be trusted as the authentic record.”

Being the largest and oldest archives, TNA has set standards and best practices in the field. Being an 18-month project, Archangel is set to prototype a distributed ledger technology that will collect robust digital signatures for born-digital and digitized physical content, reports Green.

TNA has acknowledged the challenges imposed by the changes in technology and is working on a solution.

 

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons – Chris Reynolds

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China to Launch National Blockchain Standardization Committee

An official from China’s ministry of industry and information technology has verified that the country’s plan to launch a national blockchain standardization committee should be ready to launch by the end of this year.

Structurally based on TC 307

As discussed in a keynote speech from Li Ying, head of the IT ministry’s information and software department, the structure of the committee will be based on that of TC 307, the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) counterpart blockchain commission, as reported by CoinDesk.

“We have been working closely with the ISO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). We should soon have our national technical committee for blockchain standardization ready within this year,” Ying said, commenting on the plans to establish a comprehensive framework for blockchain standards by the end of the year while confirming the Chinese government’s direct involvement.

Ying’s announcement came at the 2018 Guiyang Big Data Expo on Saturday.

China’s blockchain agenda

These comments follow closely the revelations from China’s IT ministry that indicate an agenda to pursue the standardization of blockchain application development. Ying noted the government’s plans to “expedite blockchain deployment in areas that most urgently need the nascent tech”.

While China is currently a participating member of the ISO’s TC 307 commission, the country has plans to provide its own initiative surrounding blockchain standardization. The TC 307 focuses predominantly on authentification and smart contracts; it may be speculated that China wishes to pursue the standardization of blockchain elements beyond these uses.

The IT ministry of China currently directly supervises a research lab responsible for conducting monthly evaluations of significant public blockchains. It has been reported that this is done in an effort to create a standard rating system of these blockchains, a service that would be a huge benefit for businesses looking to utilize blockchain for their company.

 

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Tim Draper Envisions Blockchain Solution to Government Efficiency Woes

Bitcoin bull and renowned financial investor Tim Draper laid out his vision for a blockchain-based solution to government efficiency problems at the GovTech Pioneers conference in Vienna, Austria on Wednesday.

As reported by Cointelegraph, Draper’s opening speech presented a plan for future political governance, consisting of a shift to the use of blockchain technology that would employ smart contracts and artificial intelligence (AI). He predicted that this combination would be capable of providing ”the perfect bureaucracy”.

Blockchain, AI, and healthcare

“The services provided by the insurance, healthcare, and real estate industries are very bad and require a lot of money. The government that burned a lot of money for the worst service first felt this,” Draper said, outlining the reasoning behind the need for a change in governmental operations.

He emphasized his points with a specific focus on healthcare, outlining the future as decentralized, with patient’s data accessible to them on blockchain. An automated system would utilize AI technology to consistently review the data, sending warnings and advice to individuals at risk.

Draper is not the only person who sees blockchain as a superior solution; several blockchain-backed healthcare projects do already exist, praised for the immutable patient records they can provide.

Hashed Health is a project that works to solve healthcare business problems, while IRIS is a start-up company looking to provide people with a decentralized healthcare record.

Of course, setting up a blockchain project in a country to cover every citizen would be a much larger feat than any of these companies have achieved so far. The cases do prove, however, Draper’s vision is not as unattainable as some may initially think.

Blockchain and voting

As recently reported by Forbes, voting is another area of government inefficiency that could benefit from a blockchain alternative. As demonstrated in previous US elections, the current voting procedure leaves much to be desired.

To illustrate this point, in one case in the state of Virginia, an apparent electoral tie led to the decision of a candidate being chosen by drawing a name from a hat. Another instance is the inefficiency of voting in person, leading to low voter turnout. In the 2016 US presidential election, an estimated 55.7% of eligible voters cast a ballot.

Blockchain voting would mean it would be virtually impossible to hack and could potentially be done at home while verifying the identity of the voter, reducing electoral fraud.

Draper did not illustrate the issue of blockchain voting in his GovTech Pioneers talk, but by highlighting the point of blockchain efficiency in regards to government operations, his speech was invaluable in the technology being recognized further in the field.

 

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Snowden Leaks Indicate NSA Spies on Blockchain

Leaked documents point towards a controversial move by the American NSA (National Security Agency) in monitoring blockchain activity, hinting at the importance placed by the government there on Bitcoin and other blockchain assets.

Snowden leaks have shown the blockchain community that surveillance remains at the top of US agenda. It hardly comes as a surprise to most, understanding that governments do and will always have a vested interest in monetary transactions and where that money ends up.

NSA Playbook

Using a protocol called “MonkeyRocket”  NSA analysts were able to find a vulnerability which enabled them to track down senders and receivers of Bitcoin. This all to aid their mission of looking at organized crime and cyber targets that utilize online e-currency services for illicit activities, despite Bitcoin providing users access to a certain degree of anonymity.

The Snowden leaks indicated that examining public transaction ledger (Blockchain) was just the tip of the iceberg, with the NSA obtaining and storing sensitive data, such as the users MAC addresses, users passwords, network ports, and timestamps.

The documents suggest that Bitcoin users were being targeted for mass surveillance, giving weight to the claim that the NSA was not just using their MonkeyRocket, but using the infamous XKeyScore system. The XKeyScore system is one of the most intrusive methods on the planet and covers the entire globe with the widest of reaches. NSA analysts require no prior authorization for the collection of online data.

Snowden stated in the Guardian:“I, sitting at my desk, could wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email… Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity.”

The NSA is adamant on suppressing Bitcoin users, as part of a counter-terrorism advance, monitoring their transactions, while subverting their privacy. The source of Bitcoin and Liberty Reserve monitoring, MonkeyRocket, has been governed by overseas surveillance authority known as “EXECUTIVE ORDER 12333”. The order was signed on 4 December 1981 by then-president Ronald Reagan; it was intended to extend powers and responsibilities of US intelligence agencies and direct leaders of the US and federal agencies to cooperate fully with CIA requests for information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jeffrey Tucker – Bitcoin's Brilliant Combination

Jeffrey Tucker – Bitcoin’s Brilliant Combination:

Jeffrey Tucker (@JeffreyATucker) writes of meeting Bernard von NotHaus why Mr. NotHaus is relevant to digital currency.  Excerpts:

“Economist F.A. Hayek wrote that it was entirely possible that a high-quality private money could compete with a government money.”

“But who would step out and make the attempt? What entrepreneur would dare come forward and offer up an alternative as a product in the consumer market?  Bernard von NotHaus was the man”

“The notion that government was trying to protect a marvelous system against domestic terrorism is mind-boggling, since the truth is rather obvious: The government was trying to protect a terrible system from being overthrown by competition.”

“Bitcoin is a brilliant combination of the Liberty Dollar’s soundness and Napster’s distribution methods, with a few extra features thrown in to protect it against shutdowns.”

“The revolution will not occur with guns and battles, but through enterprise, entrepreneurship, and a billion tiny acts of peaceful consumer choice.”

 – http://lfb.org/today/the-domestic-terrorist-you-can-call-a-hero
 – http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=292237.0 (Further discussion of this article)

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