The Economist named blockchain the ultimate ‘trust machine’ that is deemed to replace traditional banking systems, land registers, public record systems, and even traditional election voting systems. Blockchain offers the opportunity to address the trust, transparency, and bureaucracy challenges that several public bodies currently face. Furthermore, the blockchain offers new collaboration opportunities between governments and citizens. It verifies close to real-time transactions, simplifies regulatory compliance, promises efficiency gains through the reduction of intermediaries, and reduces the risks of fraud and cybercrime.
Throughout the world, governments are experimenting with blockchain in different areas. However, it remains a black box to many citizens, public bodies, and companies. This in itself raises concerns for areas where democratic processes are essential to create legitimacy. Additionally, many question whether the technology is stable and secure over the long run, if total transparency is desirable for all kinds of public services, whether it is scalable enough or consumes too much energy, what its social impact is, whether existing legal frameworks are challenged by this system, and how the technology and its users can be “fixed” if mistakes occur. Hence, the ‘trust machine’ has not been able to conquer the minds and hearts of many skeptical public and private actors.
The conference ‘Blockchain, Public Trust, Law and Governance’ will bring together reputed academics, talented professionals, and a selection of innovative entrepreneurs working on blockchain to discuss the applications of this technology to government as well as its regulatory, ethical and policy challenges.
This conference is hosted by the department of Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Public Administration of the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen that specializes on the study of how public law can contribute to public trust in government.