Blockchain, MPC and government: How Partisia Blockchain can facilitate democratic innovation

Throughout the ages, famous philosophers have grappled with the concept of good governance. From Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Hobbes to Rousseau, Voltaire and Rawls, different perspectives have existed and challenged each other over the ages on the topic. Today, in democratic societies at least, the general consensus is that of a government that is accountable to the people, with checks and balances, the guarantees of fundamental rights, and integrity in how it operates. New technologies, such as blockchain, can aid in the pursuit of good governance — this article outlines a few possible examples of how Partisia Blockchain could help governments innovate and better their governance practices:

Blockchain-powered governance

Paperwork, licenses and standing in lines — bureaucracy is something that regardless of political affiliation, people love to hate. But the true purpose of bureaucracy (whether well-designed or not) is to ensure due process and guarantee people’s rights. This in essence very noble pursuit can run into a variety of different problems, from potential inefficiency to outright corruption. A public blockchain could help to streamline processes and make them more transparent, paperwork can be filed and traced through different steps on the blockchain, whereas combined with MPC the private information in these processes can be kept secret, or only available to certain parties. In certain countries, where corruption is an issue, the intransparency of bureaucracies can allow for wrongdoing in e.g. bureaucratic processes such as ignoring, changing and/or the outright fabrication of documents. A public blockchain could allow for more trust in bureaucratic institutions, especially if those institutions don’t have control over the nodes that operate the blockchain. This is the principle behind a project called DelNorte.

DelNorte is currently running pilot projects in Latin America creating NFTs out of real estate deeds and adding them to a public blockchain. This is meant to make the bureaucratic process more efficient, give more stability and transparency regarding real estate ownership in the participating countries, circumvent potential corruption and maintain the integrity of the institution. While the government is the door to access to the system, the government does not have control over the blockchain and the listed real estate deed NFTs. Partisia Blockchain is proud to have entered into a partnership with DelNorte, helping them to add privacy and security to their e-government solutions.

Transparency for public tenders

Governments provide goods and services to their citizens, from parks, highways and schools to militaries for the national defense. While some governments have more resources than others, many of the goods used to e.g., build and maintain a public highway, need to be contracted to third parties. What is usually the case when a government has to contract such goods or services out, is that they publish a tender for which parties can bid. This ideally leads to many different companies bidding for the contract with the government, attempting to underbid each other and/or outclass each other with the quality of the good/service that they provide.

Nonetheless, public procurement bidding processes are often highly intransparent and even prone to corruption, which cheat the taxpayers out of the best possible deal they could have had. Blockchain technology could also help combat this problem, making the bidding process transparent and establishing trust with the general public. However, a major issue with the transparency of a public blockchain is that it does not allow for the hiding of certain sensitive information e.g., a company’s capabilities, classified technology, etc. that could be part of the bidding process. This is where E-Trusty comes in: E-Trusty is a dApp building on Partisia Blockchain to use the public blockchain to create transparency, while obfuscating sensitive information in the bidding process using MPC. The goal is to create a platform for public procurement that allows for the transparency of seeing multiple bids for a given contract, while using MPC to hide and protect sensitive information.

Privacy-preserving CBDCs

Multiple central banks around the world are beginning to develop and implement so-called central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). As opposed to digital currencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, these digital currencies are centralized and issued by a national bank. They are pegged to the value of a fiat currency and are meant to be a part of the existing financial system. There is however a major concern regarding CBDCs and that is that due to their centralized structure and control, they could essentially allow for a central bank, and by extension a government, to have complete insight into how people are spending their digital money. Furthermore, it is also feasible to imagine that a government could easily overreach, especially if it were to become corrupt, and easily seize such digital money. There would therefore need to be checks and balances guaranteed in the application of a CBDC. One solution for this problem, could be to use MPC to make the settlements of such a CBDC private. Such a system could also be designed to allow for certain transparency towards a government entity with the sufficient legal justification such as a warrant. The CBDCs settlements would be intransparent to e.g. the national bank or the government, however a court could allow for access to certain transaction data for a judicial institution.

Privacy preserving blockchain voting

In many places across the world, trust in elections is waning: the intransparency of voting systems, combined with distrust fueled by political rhetoric are a major threat to the integrity of democracies today. The recent coup in Bolivia or the storming of the U.S. Capitol have shown that even an unsubstantiated claim of fraud in an election can lead to political violence or even the overturning of a democratically elected government. E-voting, and particularly blockchain-based e-voting solutions, have attempted to solve this issue. They have however run into a variety of problems: intransparency or too much transparency, hardware and/or software vulnerabilities, among many others. Nonetheless, Partisia Blockchain’s MPC technology could help in solving many of these issues. MPC could be used to assure the privacy of a voter’s ballot, while showing votes being tallied for specific candidates in real-time. The election results could be publicly auditable and contestable and voters could be able to track their own votes. This kind of solution could in theory ensure safe, transparent and auditable elections, while keeping people’s votes secret.

Partisia Blockchain Foundation is dedicated to facilitating innovative solutions to real-life problems. Democratic innovation is one of the fields we are proud to contribute to.

Please contact us, if you have any questions about how our technology could enable better governance or if you think your organization could benefit from our technology.

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