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How Blockchain can be used as Public digital Infrastructure?

  • Published
    5th Dec, 2022
Context

The digitisation of governance is led by the Government, which is least automated for using services and is affected by the Pandemic, Russia-Ukraine War, and the economic slowdown.

  • The digital infrastructure is a public good and must be governed by government agencies for ensuring accountability.
About

The Blockchain Technology:

  • The blockchain is a ledger maintenance technology that keeps track of every change to your digital data and renders it individually purposed, always verified, non-tamperable, and shareable.
  • Because such a ledger is verified, it does not require a third party to authenticate the data presented every time you present your digital data into an application.

Digital Public Goods are open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable laws and best practices, do no harm by design and help attain the SDGs.

What is a Public digital Infrastructure (PDI)?

  • PDI refers to solutions and systems that effectively provide essential society-wide functions and services in the public and private sectors.
  • This includes digital forms of ID and verification, civil registration, payment (digital transactions and money transfers), data exchange, and information systems.
  • They are open-source, customizable, and localizable.
  • Benefits: increase resilience, avoid vendor lock-in, leverage existing solutions and adapt them to local needs, support interoperability between different platforms and solutions, and have the ability to respond swiftly and effectively to global crises.
  • It allows countries to retain strategic control over their digitalization processes, ensure digital cooperation and strengthen long-term capacity.

Using Blockchain as PDI:

  • Public Digital Infrastructure (PDI) on the blockchain is built on the digitized data registries shared on it publicly without violating data privacy or private use. Applications built on this infrastructure will enable ease of governance, making it transparent and responsive.
  • This will also unleash the potential of the technology start-up ecosystem to create new governance and social ecosystem applications for the world from India.
  • Possible applications:
    • Government benefits like cash transfers are supported by foundational DPI.
    • MOSIP has been used for pandemic-related subsidy payments
    • It is an open-source identity platform that can then be used to access a wide variety of government and private services.
    • MOSIP allows national identity systems to be context-specific and based on local laws and decisions
    • MOSIP is representative of the adaptable, interoperable, and transparent qualities of DPGs
    • Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Tata Trust, Omidyar Networks, and NORAD.

Blockchain technology has been used as Public digital infrastructure by the Philippines, Morocco, and Togo, and piloted in Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, and Guinea.

Suggestions for G20:

  • Committing to open data access:
    • Digital solutions are most effective when powered by relevant and high-quality data.
    • The G20 can help technologies like CommCare and DIVOC achieve global reach and become an integral part of a country’s DPI.
  • Encourage inclusive private and public collaboration:
    • Taking an open and inclusive approach to DPI can stimulate entrepreneurship, innovation, and productive competition, but the private sector should also take a proactive role in producing and contributing to DPI.
    • Uganda’s UGHub allows government services to act as a single unified system, easing access to e-services, breaking down silos, lessening the administrative burden on citizens, and coordination and integrating with the private sector and international organizations
  • Increase public sector support and funding for joint DPI:
    • Close coordination with all sectors (private, public, and civil society) can help avoid fragmentation and duplication while harnessing the cooperation and ongoing dialogue needed to address global challenges.
    • DPI which is open, accessible, and cross-sectorally enabling can help mitigate the costs of climate change such as more than US$100 billion per year as per G20’s ‘Investing in Climate Change Mitigation report.
  • Set the global norms and standards to protect people:
    • DPI can expose citizens to risks such as privacy violations, data-driven behavioral manipulation, identity theft and fraud, and exclusion from essential public services.
    • A 2021 report by the Digital Public Goods Alliance outlined a vision for DPI that safeguards inclusion, trust, competition, security, privacy, public value, and private empowerment
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