UK Minister Urges Government to Start Using Blockchain to Help Economy and People

Member of the UK Parliament Eddie Hughes published a report on blockchain on July 4, 2018, urging the UK Government to focus more on the blockchain technology to help better the economy and everyday lives of the UK citizens.

‘Unlocking Blockchain’ to Save £8 Billion and Rebuild Societal Trust

Conservative politician Eddie Hughes, who holds a junior position in the UK Ministry of Housing and is a Member of the UK Parliament for Walsall North, released the report under the title “Unlocking Blockchain: Embracing new technologies to drive efficiency and empower the citizen.” In the report, he lists a number of proposals, praising the projects currently taking place in Estonia under the auspices of the Estonian authorities as the standard UK authorities should strive to achieve.

“The state should focus its attention on using blockchain to enable social freedom, to increase efficiency, and to rebuild societal trust,” Hughes said. On the other hand, “the state should not be allowed to use such technology to intrude into the lives of individuals—but rather the technology should be used to empower individuals in their necessary engagements with the state,” Hughes said, citing the report.

According to the report, the UK government choose to welcome blockchain technology with open arms, and it could make 1% efficiency savings worth closely £8 billion. If the government begins investing in distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) and defining a legal framework concerning budding new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), it might have realistic chance to address sustainability goals such as reducing public spending.

Hughes’ report, issued in cooperation with the think tank FREER, also advocates appointment of a “Chief Blockchain Officer,” who would coordinate the UK’s blockchain strategy.

“Blockchain and associated technologies offer an unrivaled opportunity to begin to review and redesign the UK’s data systems. Whitehall and public services could be fundamentally rewired to empower citizens and better serve their needs. By introducing a departmental target for blockchain efficiency savings, we can begin to generate a digital dividend to pass on to taxpayers or to reinvest,” Hughes explains.

The UK government could incorporate blockchain-based technologies into an overwhelming number of annual transactions, including those with local councils, HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), and DfT (Department for Transport).

What’s Happening in Estonia?

The report hails the Baltic country as “a world leader in distributed ledger technology.” One of Estonia’s blockchain advancements is an interoperability platform named X-Road that digitally connects 99% of Estonia’s government services with the nation using blockchain in the public and private sector, which has been in place since 2012.

“Unlocking Blockchain” is hardly the first report that is trying to push the UK government toward blockchain. Before its publication, a London-based think tank Reform published another report in November 2017 under the title “The Future of Public Service Identity.” Along with citing the 2015 cyber attack on US Government databases, this report states that identity theft in the UK is rampant as well, with almost 173,000 cases in 2016 alone.

The report also mentions the example of Estonia, where citizens have a unique cryptographic ID which enables them to access their records and lets third parties have access to them as well.

The United Kingdom is one of the best countries in the world for blockchain industry. Namely, it has ranked fourth on the list of top 10 European countries for starting a blockchain company.

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