Blockchain, the driving technology behind bitcoin and digital currency, has also found takers in the government. As per reports, several state governments, including Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, have started evaluating the technology for purposes of e-governance.
The news comes as cyber security is becoming more and more critical to protect sensitive data. Blockchain is a distributed database technology for storing continuously growing records. Blockchains are secure by design as data is kept in `blocks’ that cannot be tampered with. New and updated records are stored in new blocks that are linked to the previous ones through a hashing technology. This creates an unbroken chain where old records are preserved forever and new data is added irreversibly.
It is this technology that the governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are looking to leverage to secure government data. The two states are seeking assistance from blockchain startups as they evaluate the distributed ledger system to protect data against hackers.
Telangana has even begun a pilot programme in parts of Hyderabad to use blockchain technology. The programme uses blockchain for land registration and integration with the state revenue department in association with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
E Magesh, director of C-DAC, Hyderabad told ET, “Simply put, it’s going to be an open platform where anyone can see who holds the land and, since it’s encrypted, people wouldn’t be able to tamper with the data. It brings in more transparency and the integrity of the information is maintained.”
He also added that the complete rollout of this programme across Hyderabad and some of the surrounding semi-urban areas is expected in the next 6-12 months.
Similarly, the Andhra Pradesh government will start moving some of its departmental data onto blockchain technology in the 8-12 months. Currently, it has launched pilots for adoption of blockchain technology in two of its departments – civil supplies and land records.
In this regard, the Andhra government has also initiated discussions with global communications and financial technology service provider Broadridge Financial Solutions. Broadridge has set up a centre of excellence for blockchain in the state.
The aim would be to prevent any kind of duplication or forgery in the data. In addition, the Andhra government has also made plans to set up an R&D centre for cryptocurrency. The centre would be set up in association with RC Bose Centre for Cryptology and Security of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata.
This move comes on the back of the Andhra government’s aim to become the financial technology capital of the country. More so, it is also driven by concerns over cyber security, given the fact that the state recently witnessed a few cases of the WannaCry ransom ware attack, wherein systems at some of the police stations were compromised.
Not to be left behind, the neighbouring state government of Karnataka has also started discussions with blockchain companies last month. These discussions were to evaluate the technology and see how it can be used for commercial purposes and the government.
Karnataka State IT minister Priyank Kharge said, “We will leverage any kind of technology that will help us with our database. We have asked these startups to come back to us with how blockchain is being used outside the country and what policies are in place there.”
Meanwhile, the Indian government is also deliberating on legalising Bitcoins. With reports pouring in that a committee of finance ministry officials, IT ministry officials, NITI Aayog, and Reserve Bank officials, may be inching closer to legalising virtual currencies in India. The committee’s report is expected by the end of July.
(The development was first reported by ET.)