An electronic government (e-government) is one where public authorities use Internet solutions and a basic infrastructure to provide information resources and services to individuals and legal entities to ensure transparency of public sector work and allow interactive decision-making.
The functions of an e-government are to provide support to individuals through Internet portals. To work correctly the following are needed:
- List of services
- List of citizens
- System for identification
- Well-established online payment scheme
Although the idea of a government in electronic format seems astonishing in terms of scope and security, it is not revolutionary. It's actually nothing more than data storage and applications that connect it to web interfaces.
The Crypto-World Makes Adjustments
New ideas for the implementation of the electronic governments have momentum with the emergence of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is especially suitable for an e-government system for the following reasons.
1. Tamper Protection
One of the main benefits in the use of blockchain technology in an e-government is that information about people, real estate, certificates and other documents is practically unchangeable after it is placed in the registry. Theoretically, it is therefore possible to regard that data as legally valid. A record in the blockchain registry is the same as one made on paper with a signature and seal.
2. Smart Contracts
Smart contract technology is the key advantage for blockchain platforms when creating an e-government. It plays an important role in automating work with data. For example, if you want to add information about a new owner to the registry, you can use a smart contract.
It is possible to prevent this contract from being falsified by a third party just by recording it into a blockchain. As long as the algorithms for operations in registries are described in normative acts, there is the possibility to formulate the registers in the language of a smart contract and place them into a decentralized network. There they will become "smart laws," which will be automated and not subject to third-party influence.
The implementation of the blockchain is thus shifting the image of e-government to a new level of quality. It is no longer about just providing business services; blockchain can bring a fundamental transformation of public administration activities.
There are however some issues. The blockchain is simply a means to accomplish specific tasks in a particular field, such as cryptocurrency circulation. The technology does not guarantee a complex solution for problems in other areas. We discussed these issues with Igor Chugunov, the founder of the CREDITS blockchain. The CREDITS project positions itself not only as a platform for financial transactions, but also as a basis for creating different applications and smart contract systems.
The following is a partial list of the challenges that need to be tackled in the development of the blockchain platform at the state level.
Input of Information
The data that is recorded in the blockchain registers is not always reliable. The technology secures the information, but the accuracy of the data is only as good as the data recorded. The exceptions are in cases where data is generated within a blockchain system. It is therefore necessary to carefully design and control the order of data transfer to blockchain registries, before moving to a new system.
According to Kyle Wang, Senior Consultant at IBM, external data feeds present a significant risk to the operational integrity of the blockchain platform. No matter how sophisticated the technology is, if the data inputs from oracles or participants are "dirty" in terms of formatting or simply inaccurate, the outputs from the system will be nonsensical, irrelevant, and potentially damaging. It is extremely important during the development stage to set clear regulations and schema around data inputs. When possible, strictly-bounded oracles and automated processes should be used in lieu of any manual data entry.
The e-government system should have a mechanism to oversee the access to contracts and registries in order to ensure the truthfulness of data and to fully control attempts to change it. It is important to grant such rights to smart contracts and/or to specific roles rather than to certain users or hosts.
"There are closed types of blockchain to solve this issue, with a limited group of people having access to data. You have to understand that the blockchain is not a magic wand that can solve all of society's problems, but it's a technology that provides unique technical solutions for working with large volumes of data. Our platform equips developers with a set of tools to build their own applications - smart contracts. We believe that it is not possible to give a ready-made solution to everyone; there will be a need to adjust many business processes, so we provide a platform for the implementation of ideas," according to the founder of CREDITS.
Identification of Participants
An identification scheme is needed to start a successful interaction between users and the innovative platform. The use of biometric data can guarantee its reliability.
Igor Chugunov stated: "Technologies are constantly progressing and significant results have already been achieved in the development of facial identification. For example, in summer 2017 in the United Kingdom, someone was arrested after being identified using facial identification technology. The police are still actively testing this technology."
Synchronization of Data Storage
It is possible to ensure the identity of the smart contracts operation if the ecosystem registries are synchronized. In Bitcoin, for example, this is implemented through a consensus that promotes the identity of databases within all validation nodes. In an e-government, identical results are critical for each node, after a specific operation has been performed.
Each of the fully-fledged nodes in the blockchain network should have enough power to fully support state activity. Therefore, the nodes should located in modern data centers. When computers with megadisks or an algorithm able to support fragmented storage appear, this will signal the transformation of the system.
"CREDITS have found a solution to the problem" Chugunov added. "the developers used unique technologies that can significantly increase the speed of decision-making and maintain a high level of security."
By resolving the challenges above, e-government ecosystems based on blockchain technology can be built in the near future. This will eliminate bureaucratic red tape, control the activities of the bureaucratic apparatus, and facilitate development of business.
Humanity is now entering an exciting phase - implementing blockchain technology in the public sphere. Despite many unresolved issues, the idea remains very attractive. In the future we may see a "planetary" blockchain, similar to the World Wide Web.