British MP working to integrate UK government with blockchain technology

Matt Hancock MP spoke to the Law Society on Tuesday, encouraging the integration of blockchain within the UK government and the use of smart contracts in law. 

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "Blockchain technology holds real potential to make Government services more efficient. Its multi-faceted nature means we all stand to benefit. There is wide interest across Government in deploying blockchain to tackle a wide range of issues, including from Defra, the Ministry of Justice, DFID, HMRC, and BEIS.

He highlighted the use of blockchain in the World Food Programme where Syrian refugees can buy food from shops by having their eyes scanned. All of these transactions are recorded on a blockchain.

He also spoke about Smart contracts, which are automatically executing scripts that are made possible using blockchain technology. The legal implications of smart contracts are still in development. Mr. Hancock said: "Lawtech is another field where blockchain provides real opportunities. There are many potential uses, like creating smart contracts, protecting intellectual property and fighting money laundering.

"So I am pleased that the Law Commission has committed to looking at this through their 13th programme of law reform, to see how smart contracts can be used in our legal system and what the implications of blockchain are for data protection."

Referencing the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he said: "And there is a benefit which seems particularly timely given recent events. Blockchain can give users more transparency about their data."

Regarding regulation of cryptocurrencies, he recognized that there is unlikely to be a global governing body but that regulation is needed to prevent scams and illegal behavior. He said: "I want our regulators to carry out their essential roles - preventing harm, providing certainty to businesses and trust to citizens - without stifling innovation. The Consumer Green paper just published by BEIS is seeking views on how best to achieve this."

Mr. Hancock recently grilled Facebook executives over their responsibility within the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Previously, he has worked as an economist for the bank of England. In February, he brought out his own social media app to communicate with his constituents.