Blockchain is known for being a system behind cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ether ( the cryptocurrencies generated by Ethereum), yet this technology may have other uses than just a financial instrument.
But first, what’s a blockchain?
Created by Satoshi Nakamoto blockchain is a digitized, decentralized, digital ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. It’s a constantly growing list of data, of record, called blocks. This blocks are recorded, linked and added to the chain in chronological order, allowing every market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions without central record-keeping. The blockchain is downloaded automatically to every computer connected, called node, to the network. By design, blockchains are resistant to modification of the data and are therefore unhackable. Read more about the blockchain technology in our previous article “La Blockchain Technology : 10 termes à connaitre” (Article in french)
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)
The digital identity
The blockchain system is based on a contract, that holds both parties accountable for it; thus, they are able to fulfill their end of a bargain only in case of completing the terms of agreement, also known as a SmartContract. The digital identification of individual parties is an important part of the process, and it works in the following way: the identity component of blockchain technology is generated by the use of cryptographic keys. The identification system is based on public and private keys, where a combination of both keys creates your digital identity.
The « public key » is how you identify yourself (e.g. an email address), the « private key » is your way to express consent through digital interactions. Cryptography is an important force behind blockchain revolution, and the use of it gives an opportunity to establish a strong system for digital identity.
The identification system of the Blockchain technology can be applied to a number of cases, such as digital identities, passports, E-residency, birth certificates, wedding certificates, IDs, online account login etc. However, in my point of view, a digital voting system, that prevents voter fraud, is one of the most important ways to apply the technology in a real world.
Security and voter fraud seriously affect the process of electoral process digitalization, and, consequently, it is a critical obstacle to establishing democracy across the globe. The validity of election results has always been questionable, furthermore digital, cybersecurity and voter frauds are of the biggest concerns in the recent elections. Blockchain technology with two identification keys could turn into an unhackable virtual vote-counting system, securing the voters’ identification and guaranteeing that votes cannot be marked with a later date.
The voter turnout has been very low in every major election in the Western world (e.g. election in the US and France, the referendum on Brexit etc.). The digital voting system could be a way to reduce the number of non-voters by providing a viable alternative voting system to younger generations, the elderly, and the disabled. The voter would also be able to anonymously check whether their vote was successfully submitted by the system.
In the same way that blockchain acts as a register for cryptocurrencies exchanges, it can also create a permanent and public ledger for votes As a result, we would be able to build the future with truly democratic elections around the world.
The startup «Follow my vote» is actively working on developing such a voting system.