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Blockchain could give more transparency to data use

Blockchain technology has the potential to make government services more efficient, Matt Hancock has said.

Speaking at a Law Society event last week, the digital, culture, media and sport secretary explained that already digitalising government services in the UK has saved billions for taxpayers.

Governments that embrace emerging technologies, such as blockchain, will thrive in future decades, he said.

Hancock told the audience that there is wide interest across the government in deploying blockchain to tackle a wide range of issues, naming the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for International Development (DFID), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) among those interested.

“The government has already invested around £10m through Innovate UK and our research councils to support blockchain projects in areas as diverse as energy, voting systems and maximising value from items donated to charity,” he said.

He explained that one of the benefits of blockchain is that it can give users more transparency about their data, adding: “There is the opportunity for users of government services to be able to control access to their personal records and know who has accessed them.”

Although he warned that it is unlikely that there will ever be a uniform governance model for the technology, Hancock said that he is “determined” that the UK plays a part in ensuring that it is developed in a way that benefits all.

“Where technologies rub up against regulatory barriers, we want our regulators to be alert and responsive and supporting the deployment of new technology where there are obvious benefits,” he said.

The Regulators’ Pioneer Fund, which was announced in the last budget, will see £10m invested in emerging technologies.

“While it’s too early to know if blockchain will be a major beneficiary of this fund, I am looking forward to seeing which technologies are put forward,” Hancock said.

Top image: LuckyStep48


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