blockchain and government

Blockchain roundup

*** The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate is working on an interoperable blockchain application that will ensure interoperability across the agency's multiple credential formats.

A Phase I award was made to Austria-based Danube Tech to help develop its Universal Issuer and Verifier project that integrates interoperability support for multiple credential data formats, blockchains and standardized and open application programming interfaces into its existing decentralized identifier products for credential issuance and identity verification, DHS said.

"Interoperability between blockchains is enabled by using emerging World Wide Web Consortium standards to globally resolve and find information where it exists on a particular blockchain,” said Anil John, technical director of the Silicon Valley Innovation Program, the office that issued the solicitation for a blockchain-based solution to ensure the integrity of certificates, licenses and attestations.

*** The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a final rule that allows emerging technologies to be used in electronic titling systems, electronic signature authentication or electronic odometer disclosure statements.

Because NHTSA "cannot foresee all future security and authentication applications that states may wish use," it intends for the final rule to be technology neutral.  States can use any application for electronic odometer disclosure or title transactions so long as the application provides meets requirements set out by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  

*** Customs and Border Protection is conducting a proof of concept analyze blockchain’s ability to facilitate shipments by aligning intellectual property rights’ holders and licensees. The live fire system test was scheduled for September 2019. Following the test, CBP will conduct a 360-degree assessment addressing policy, operations and legal and technical aspects of the technology.

The intellectual property proof of concept follows successful completion of CBP's September 2018 tests of blockchain to verify certificates of origin from the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central America Free Trade Agreement partners.  It found that use of the blockchain achieved almost instantaneous communications between CBP and trade, improved documentation of receipt, and expedited processing for CBP. 

*** As commercial interest in blockchain grows, it has captured the attention of state legislators who hope to capitalize on the innovations it promises by allowing experimentation and implementation in their states. To date, 24 states and Puerto Rico have enacted bills on blockchain technology.  

Lawmakers in Wyoming are currently working on legislation that allows for “Special Purpose Depository Institutions,"  essentially  blockchain banks specializing in handling cryptocurrency-related transactions. The new charters don’t require backing by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., instead relying on a 100% cash reserve for securing all cryptocurrency assets.  Lawmakers expect five new blockchain banks could bring $20 billion in assets to the state, according to the Wyoming Business Report.

*** In Russia, three scientists were arrested for using government high-performance computers to mine bitcoins.  They built a server farm of GPU-powered machines, connected to the internet, downloaded software for cryptocurrency mining, conducted the calculations on the cryptocurrency and pocketed the profits.

The three men were employees of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center -- the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics , which houses  a 1 petaflops (peak) supercomputer. The scientists' lawyers said his clients "didn’t mine for profit, but out of professional interest, as a means to validate their programming talents," HPCwire reported.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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