Liina Tulk is one of my colleagues at Wallace and a commercial and banking & financial services litigation lawyer. In this guest post she asks why is the UK public sector reticent to adopt blockchain?
Most of us have online banking and social media accounts. We shop online at times convenient for us – relying on store opening hours or standing in queues is a thing of the past. We expect round-the-clock access and convenience from the private sector. Why don’t we demand the same from the public sector?
Too many public sector services in the UK still require us to either attend government offices in person or submit documents by post. Voting is a prime example – you either attend a polling station or use postal voting. Why can’t we vote online?
Running a whole country digitally and securely isn’t a futuristic dream of mine. It is already happening in my home country, Estonia. Most public sector services in Estonia are available online 24/7 with blockchain technology to ensure data integrity. Unlike in the UK where it’s still controversial, each Estonian has a digital ID card. This allows them to travel in Europe without the need to carry a passport. They can also submit tax returns, sign and timestamp documents, pay fines, vote, open bank accounts and check medical records. They can even store loyalty cards in one single place without having to fumble through their wallet at the checkout trying to find the right card.
Blockchain technology not only provides convenience but also security and accountability. Everything you do leaves behind your digital signature and is traceable back to you. GDPR and knowing how your data is being used are more topical than ever before. It is reassuring to know that blockchain-based time stamping allows people to check who and when has accessed their personal data held on a public database.
G-Cloud and online services at http://www.gov.uk are a great start. But it’s about time the public sector in the UK caught up with the private sector. There’s no reason why constant innovation and improvement in this digital age shouldn’t apply to everything in our life, from grocery shopping to voting at the next elections.