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 sentence.
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.