Last week Hillary Clinton announced her policy goals for technology and innovation.

While her continued support of computer science and STEM education, increasing open data or fighting for net neutrality wasn’t a surprise, a more unexpected announcement sits halfway through the document: “public service blockchain applications.”

As the first person to have launched a “code sprint” out of the White House and fight to use words like “hacking” on the White House blog, I can tell you that getting words like “blockchain” into an announcement was challenging.

The other important thing to note is she said “application,” not “regulation.”

When governments start to depend on a technology, I believe they are less likely to aggressively regulate it because — they are just as dependent on its success, as consumers and businesses.

Governments and elected officials around the world, regardless of politics, must understand the potential impact of blockchain-based applications. They must understand how the technology might be used to increase trust and decrease bureaucracy in the delivery of government services.

Additionally, how might citizens use this technology to regain control over their personal data, such as their health care records? Lastly, what can the Federal government do to accelerate the development of this critical technology?

To be sure, public blockchains are a nascent technology, and they require significant research and development to realize their full potential. But it’s also fundamentally important to the future governance of our society and economy. It’s critical that governments start engaging with it today to address both its challenges and its great potential tomorrow.

So, what exactly are public service blockchain applications and why should voters care about this issue?


An important role of government is to guarantee the integrity of public registries. Government registries tell us who owns what land or automobile, a vital source of proof if citizens are to get loans from banks or obtain other services in relation to those assets such as insurance. The government records your birth, which helps you prove your identity and verify whether you can legally vote, have a drink or be on that little league team.

Governments also keep a registry of passports issued, verifying citizenship and enabling you to travel abroad. Importantly, they also maintain registries of companies and occupational licenses, ensuring certain professionals have taken the proper steps, had the proper training or have insurance to work on the plumbing in your house or pilot an international flight.

Most public registries are maintained in government databases, creating giant, siloes of information. As we saw with the hack of of the Office of Personnel Management when 21.5 million people’s personal information was compromised — including…

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