The blockchain technology, which has various kinds of applicability, is finally starting to gain acceptance in the government institutions. One example being the Washoe County in Nevada, which uses the blockchain platform to create a digital ledger of marriage certificate in Ethereum Blockchain. Any couple married in Washoe County can now view and send the digital record of their marriage certificate to anyone using the internet through their PCs, Smartphones and other related devices. However, the couple need to obtain the marriage license, in person, from the County Clerk’s Office as that will only be provided in physical form.
The process involved is quite simple. The Washoe County generates a digitally signed PDF copy of the marriage certificate that is originally wet-signed. Thereafter, the PDF is assigned a cryptographic hash and it is stored as a zero value Ethereum transaction. This entire process was started on an experimental basis in April, 2018. But after having served 950 couples till early December in 2018, the County is exploring other fields where the blockchain technology can be used to preserve other records so as to replicate the success of the marriage certificate programme.
There are many government departments across the globe who are seriously considering to adopt this technology for safe-keeping of records. The municipal corporations want to adopt this technology to keep a digital record of the Birth Certificate of Individuals; Sanctioned Plans of House, Public & Commercial Properties under their jurisdiction, etc. The National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) of Thailand developed blockchain technology for e-voting. According to Chalee Vorakulpipat, head of cybersecurity laboratory at NECTEC, it “can be applied to national, provincial or community elections, as well as business votes such as the board of directors”. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has completed a proof-of-concept of a blockchain based credential management system for workers employed at the company’s construction sites.
There are many important aspects of a blockchain record. Any record in a physical form may or may not survive the test of time. But a record in a blockchain platform remains intact forever. Every record in a blockchain is punched with the date and time on which it was recorded along with its unique identity and cryptographic hash. Another aspect of a blockchain record is that it is a publicly distributed verified transaction which is difficult to modify. Thus, any record in this platform cannot be fudged easily as compared to those in the physical format.
The blockchain technology has its own set of limitations as well owing to which, it has been facing resistance. There are many Washoe County residents who do not understand this technology. This prevents them from using this platform and they attempt to print the digital version in order to use it as a paper certificate. There can be instances where the court of law refuses to acknowledge any evidence that is present in a digital form in a blockchain platform. The blockchain platform consumes a lot of electricity on a daily basis for its functioning. Hence, in case of a major power failure, the blockchain based activity may suffer enormously.
But with blockchain gaining acceptance in one County and its success so far, it is sure to be implemented in other counties as well. This will open up new avenues for this revolutionary technology and shall aid it to unleash its full potential by making effective contribution in the public distribution system.