Can Blockchain Prevent Government Overreach by Decentralizing Institutions?

Government overreach is cited often using examples of pointless and harmful laws and their heinous results. Take, for instance, a case in 2012 that saw one Oregon man jailed for collecting rainwater from the ponds on his property. Oregon local law states that all water is a public resource, even reservoirs that reside on private property so technically, taking rainwater from his ponds was grounds for a 30-day jail term. Regardless of the blatant unfairness of such legislation, if he had a more comprehensive knowledge of them, perhaps he could have submitted his Standard Reservoir Permit in time and avoided his

Make no mistake, blockchain cannot nullify such laws, but it can help citizens in countries around the world to work with them and prove their compliance. Much government overreach happens because of inefficiency, but this is a poor excuse when blockchain exists. There are many evolving blockchain trends that will transfer power from centralized governments to the citizens under their thumb, including the internet of things, blockchain identification and voting platforms, and diverse financial markets.

Power to the People
Melding blockchain solutions with IoT, the internet of things, is a new concept that allows citizens to demonstrate their compliance with government policies remotely, which can help avoid enforcement that might otherwise act with a bias. It can also prove compliance in circumstances when law enforcement is mistakenly prosecutorial. Imagine an IoT device attached to your car that records your speed at wireless intervals along the highway. Combined with blockchain’s irrefutable ledger of entries, it will be easy for a computer to accurately monitor and adjust your speed (or wire you a ticket), making highway police officers entirely unnecessary. These state or local cops are often motivated by avoiding boredom, fulfilling quotas, and exercising their power rather than keeping the flock safe.

Though one might believe that the example above naturally requires them to be a subject of mass surveillance just to avoid interaction with the police, this is only half-true. Other government functions will be replaced by blockchain as well, and these will allow for safe, uncompromising identification. One company working on a realistic solution is SelfKey. SelfKey is a system that can easily integrate with bureaucratic government offices, like those that handle registration of vehicles, establishment of businesses, charities, insurance policies, trusts and a whole host of other contracts that require verification of an identity. With SelfKey, one pays KEY tokens to register themselves with various private, and public processes from local, state, and national governments securely.

A Layered ID Promotes Democracy
For blockchain participants, the difference is that they are not surrendering any sensitive identifying information to centralized, vulnerable sources (even those within the government). Using cryptocurrency as a medium for identification is smart, because it naturally keeps centralized authorities from unwanted surveillance. Individual services can register a company or vehicle to the correct identity, without ever knowing the name behind the number (or 256-character hash). Thanks to cryptography standards, public dissemination of data can be verified as accurate while still being anonymous. This is the public and private key functionality that allows a computer to verify your ownership over bitcoin, for example, without knowing your name.

This concept is applicable to voting, especially if preventing government overreach is crucial. With the ledger-like permanence of a blockchain voting record, votes cannot be created from thin air, altered in the chain, or attributed to anyone else. Companies such as Horizon State are already working on blockchain voting solutions that allow users to remain truly anonymous and prevent fraud. This type of unalterable voting system will prevent parties from padding ballot boxes, miscounting, or taking part in other mischief that can swing an election in unanticipated directions. Clearly, blockchain can help democratic methods to remain pure, which increases the value of a single vote and encourages more to turn out and fight unfair policy.

Breaking the Financial Chains
In our modern capitalist infrastructure, the shareholder is king, which puts corporations on the same level as deities. Thanks to poor privacy laws, these businesses can freely exchange in-depth user information just for the price of letting people enjoy their services. The Terms and Agreements that everyone skips over when running their new application is them “asking” for permission to monitor you and sell your data to the highest bidder.

Companies like Datum are using the blockchain to fight this unfortunate truth. Not only are companies like Apple and Amazon profiting from the use of their customers’ data, they’re also putting customers at risk by storing it in unsafe places. Centralized servers are susceptible to breaches by hackers, who literally have millions of identities at their fingertips. Decentralized networks provide these hackers no real target, as information is stored as encrypted data on the entire network. It also allows users to set their own sharing privileges, and if they are willing, profit from sharing it all. In many ways, blockchain is slowly democratizing the way that entire industries operate. This lengthy decentralization period will inevitably change how we think about political representation, financial accessibility, information sharing, and an array of other ideas that have traditionally suffered from overreach in the worst ways.


numapepi Thu, 10/26/2017 - 09:59 Permalink

Pretty chilling... the blockchain monitoring our every move and report them back to the government. Imagine getting a ticket for every infraction you might inadvertently do? Soon, all anyone would do is avoid infractions... and nothing else would get done!

Pesky Labrador Thu, 10/26/2017 - 10:21 Permalink

Government will not give up the overreach with out a fight. Since they have written laws to pretty much throw anyone in jail that stands against them, they will never lose. At least not from within that is.

Dr_Snooz Thu, 10/26/2017 - 10:23 Permalink

Yeesh! Unlike the rest of you, I read the whole article. It's like the stuff you write when the only info you have about a subject comes from the Marketing Dept. Shockingly ignorant!

HRClinton Thu, 10/26/2017 - 11:08 Permalink

I get the use of Blockchain for crypto-currencies (Distributed Ledger), but I get really leery of its use for anything else.Suddenly it's as though TPTB want to promote it a but too eagerly, which makes me suspicious. 

snblitz Thu, 10/26/2017 - 11:46 Permalink

Blockchain technology cures cancer

There is so much hype around blockchain I am starting to think it is the big lie in action.

There are very simple to understand "facts' about the existing blockchain technologies such as whomever has the most CPU power is in charge.

What they tell you in the articles and the actual implementation of blockchains are very different.

any_mouse snblitz Thu, 10/26/2017 - 13:48 Permalink

"Cure Cancer"

Never will happen. All of my life "they" have collecting donations, government grants, etc. to find a "cure for cancer".

Cancer is not polio nor diphtheria nor malaria.

There will never be a shot that prevents Cancer.

Like a War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on Terror, never ends.

Sorry O/T.

In reply to by snblitz

nekten snblitz Fri, 10/27/2017 - 01:38 Permalink

It's new. It's distributed vs. centralized. It's borderless vs. having political boundaries. It's run by consensus vs. by authority.Down to essentials, it's a radical change in the area of "trust."It's the bazaar to the cathedral; Wikipedia to Encyclopedia Brittanica.I think "the big lie" is the one we were brought up in. "Trust authority everything will be alright." "They're the experts, we have to trust them to do the right thing for us." Um, turns out they did pretty well for themselves, didn't they? And us?Search YouTube for "Andreas Antonopolous". IMO, he's the best explainer around for everything Bitcoin or Blockchain. He wrote the (very readable) bible on bitcoin "Mastering Bitcoin."

In reply to by snblitz

Son of Captain Nemo Thu, 10/26/2017 - 12:00 Permalink

"Can Blockchain Prevent Government Overreach by Decentralizing Institutions?"...

No it certainly CANNOT! "Why"???...

Because the same entities that control .gov are the same ones that co-authored and developed the "hash algorithms" and networks that it passes through that made "Buttchain" possible in the first place.

Until we have a fully independent international engineering board that builds the physical layer all the way up to the applications layer for a crypto-currency Worldwide network that can be "backed with genuine assets"i.e. hard money oil/gas etc. it will remain "Buttchain" with the next 'Wanna Cry' incident around the corner being more compromising or will be used as the ultimate tool of blackmail to those individual "wallets" that have big money and names behind them that can be manipulated by the U.S. Treasury and the banks that control "IT"!!!

nekten Son of Captain Nemo Fri, 10/27/2017 - 00:03 Permalink

So the answer to the ills of centralization is more centralization?The question, really, is about trust. Just as soon as you put together your international engineering board authority, there would be (legitimate) skeptics questioning who was selected, by whom were they selected, etc. YACJ (yet another circle jerk).If you look into large distributed projects you find there are arguments, (long-lived) flame wars, and forks (I got a better idea, so I'm taking my ball and going away). Nonetheless, you also find some pretty awsome results. Wikipedia, Linux, Bitcoin.For my money, I'd more trust the results of a system built around consensus of those with "skin-in-the-game" than one with appointed authorities (who were appointed by the authorities, BTW).  

In reply to by Son of Captain Nemo

any_mouse Thu, 10/26/2017 - 13:42 Permalink

Simple answer: NO.

Technology alone cannot overcome sociopathology and psychopathology.

It isn't errors or inefficiencies that lead to the results of history. (Policy decisions lead to errors at the FED. Once upon a time ...)

It is the desire for total control of other humans and of nature.

Any tool can be wielded for good or evil.

India is using India Stack technology to control 1.3 billion people. Biometrics and cashless payments. No one outside the system. Increased tax revenues. Modern sanitation is not part of India Stack.

any_mouse Thu, 10/26/2017 - 13:57 Permalink

Blockchain voter id?

Dindus are going to have a blockchain wallet, but are not required to have State issued photo id?

The USA will require voter id the day after tomorrow.

And it is not a R-D thing. There is One Party and we don't get a vote in it.

The Ds play off the Rs, and the R's play off the Ds. Neither passes anything that makes sense.

Technology cannot fix a broken system.

Jay Thu, 10/26/2017 - 15:40 Permalink

First of all, the Oregan man jailed for collecting rainwater on his property was rightfully and justly punished. Eastern Oregon is a desert and there's much less water to go around than need for it. One can't divert water from it's natural flow for private use without depriving someone downstream of the water.  Cooperation among users of the scarce resource is needed. Oregon has a very fair and well thought out system of natural law that deals with water rights and the Oregon man was not cooperating with other users. The speed ticket thing--keep in mind that a blockchain is a very expensive and inefficient database. Wouldn't a hardware solution that records speed limit on each individual vehicle be a better solution and doesn't that solution already exist? Is it really necessary that the whole world be able to view your speeds along a certain route? No? Then why try to solve this problem with a blockchain? In dealing with the govt. they always want to know who you are. That's the nature of the beast. The notion that you can rig some blockchain where you are pseudonymous in govt. dealings is ridiculous. They don't work that way and never will.The only suggestion here that deserves consideration is blockchain voting. That leverages the public nature of the blockchain database to good use. With a blockchain, anybody can audit the records yet nobody can screw with the records. The weak point is: who registers the voters? How can that be done without trust? And if you trust the govt. to register the voters then why shouldn't you trust them to count the vote?

nekten Jay Thu, 10/26/2017 - 23:34 Permalink

One solution to the voting (or a licensing) application would be to use a "registered address"--one that has an actual ID associated with it for use where identification of an actual person and residence is critical. For other activities, where a person would choose to maintain privacy, use other addresses or change them for every transaction. That address ID could itself be hashed to provide a signature that the authorities could depend upon, but would be unique so that the ID address used couldn't be tracked by third parties.One can imagine a system where the votes could be cryptographically hashed so that the "owner" of the vote--the voter himself--could review his vote in the block chain, but noone else could see how he voted. (Left as an exercise for the reader) ;-)I wouldn't necessarily trust the government to either register the voters, or count the vote. I would trust the blockchain though. It doesn't go into a backroom to be counted by god-knows-who. It can be counted by anyone with an interest.Key would be keeping the code open-source, so that it could be viewed by anyone with an interest. Also key is maintaining a transparent bug-tracker--particularly for security-related bugs..

In reply to by Jay

Jay nekten Thu, 10/26/2017 - 23:56 Permalink

The blockchain solves the problem of auditing the votes, including your own. It solves double voting or phony ballot problems, but you still need the central authority to decide who to allow to vote and who to restrict from voting. The central authority is the weak link and if the registrar is stuffing the ballot box by registering ineligible or phony applicants then the system is effectively defeated.

In reply to by nekten

nekten Jay Fri, 10/27/2017 - 01:35 Permalink

Yup. A central authority is certainly a departure from the decentralist nature of blockchain. And I can't disagree that "stuffing the box" and registering the ineligible voters aren't issues. I'd argue that solving the double voting and auditing the vote issues are not inconsequential.First off, an admission: I'm just an observer to voting issues. As to the problem of "stuffing the box" with ineligible or phony voters, doesn't each jurisdiction have a list of those eligible to vote? Don't they also consult the public record of births and deaths? (I'd argue should be in the blockchain).I do think you've made good points. However, these points are also engrained in the current system. I'd suggest the fixing of double voting and auditing are still significant improvements that could be fairly easily done.The others you brought up should get some serious attention from developers.

In reply to by Jay

Jay govtsucks Fri, 10/27/2017 - 12:04 Permalink

Don't know how much the law would let you collect without charges. The Oregon guy had ponds that he was stocking for recreational fishing. That's a lot of water and that's valuable water that some farmer downstream didn't get to grow his crops and put food on other people's table. Under Oregon law, you are not allowed to divert water from it's natural flow unless you compensate the other downstream users. This encourages people not to waste water. It's a very fair system to all users that aknowledges the nature of water: that it flows.In contrast, the US went on a dam building spree in the middle of last century and built many dams on the Colorado river with no regard for downstream users. The dams decimated farming in northern Mexico and are still a sore point in Mexican relations. 

In reply to by govtsucks

qdone Thu, 10/26/2017 - 19:01 Permalink

ya know. that's an intriguing question. i have to think 'bout it. i think i understand the concept pretty well, and i see possibilities in it.....

slightlyskeptical Thu, 10/26/2017 - 21:14 Permalink

What a bunch of crap. Blockchain is anything but decentralized. Every transaction and involved parties all in one nice electronic record. If blockchain ever becomes a currency (widespread adoption) you can bet this record will not be kept secret from the government.  

nekten Synoia Fri, 10/27/2017 - 00:49 Permalink

The blockchain itself, you can say, is replicated among full nodes via a distributed (peer) network. The transactions forming the next block are distributed to those who "mine." Miners compete in a distributed environment to verify the next block.I'm not sure of the distinction you're making.

In reply to by Synoia

Golden Phoenix Thu, 10/26/2017 - 22:27 Permalink

Blockchain on a vehicle sounds like a plan to collect a fine every single time you speed automatically. By the time you get home through stop and go traffic you'll owe $3,500 for 35 occurrences. If you worked for Tesla and didn't like someone you could tweak their autonomous subroutine to go a mph over instead of under and they'd be homeless in a week. 

. . . _ _ _ . . . Fri, 10/27/2017 - 07:33 Permalink

On the blockchain voting issue (this was discussed years ago,) one thing which is never mentioned is that it would allow for referendae on every issue brought before congress. It could effectively replace congress with direct democracy. Time to put those fuckers out of work.Betcha' the Swiss will be first at this (had Gaddafi still been in power, I might have said Libya.)