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Blockchain tech could be used to curb corruption

A recent report noted that the founder of major social enterprise in Thailand stated that blockchain could be used to promote transparency of information for anti-corruption and to increase the power of investigation while speaking at a seminar last week organised by the Thailand Institute of Justice on “Blockchain technology for transparency and accountability”.

The speaker, who is a researcher on corruption, suggested that modern technology could be applied in three areas. First, blockchain can be used for government procurement with strong investigation by citizens.

By doing this blockchain could be used to manage related information such as procurement and auction-bidding in the server of Comptroller-General’s Department in order to allow associate networks to get access to the information.

Blockchain would help facilitate the investigation of concerned agencies and enhance transparency of the government’s procurement process, he pointed out.

Second, blockchain can be used to promote good governance in the private sector.

The technology will help the public validate the history and the background of a company to understand its relationship with other companies as well as to consider if there are any risks or credibility issues with the company.

Lastly, blockchain tech can be used to declare the electronic assets civil servants and state officers to avoid conflict of interest and non-transparent investigational processes, preventing both errors that occur when filing papers as well as information erasure.

Moreover, it would be easier to search for assets and have various ways to investigate the declared assets.

For example, it would be able to investigate the changes in the assets over a period of time, or it can analyse if there is any conflict of interest and can check if the assets are in accordance the owner’s lifestyle.

The speaker stated that while technology can fight corruption, the public must be encouraged to follow the investigation and support scrutiny that is free from influence.

Blockchain can also help solve the human trafficking issue and the non-transparent processes in the fishing industry.

The co-founder of a digital-led social enterprise stated that his organisation was trying to create a prototype applying blockchain for the fishery industry by tracking the origin of fishes – from where they were caught until they were served on the table.

He noted that Thailand is the world’s leading exporter of canned tuna products but environmental activists argue the production process and supply chain in the fishing industry still has problems in terms of transparency.

He stated that blockchain could help solve this issue as consumers can track where their edible items are coming from. Moreover, the technology could also be used to identify the identity of labour in order to prevent human trafficking and child labour in the industry.

The advantage of blockchain technology that it stores the digital information by utilising computer networks that connect a huge number of computers to store and verify data. The transactions recorded with blockchain will be safely stored with utmost transparency and will be difficult to duplicate or counterfeit.

While the participants were in general agreement that blockchain is not a universal remedy, they argued that, if used correctly the tech has many benefits, especially regarding establishing a culture of transparency at both individual and organisational levels.

Because of its ability to act as a decentralised ledger, as a record of any type of transaction that needs a consensus or permission to enter and edit data on the blockchain database, industries from finance to healthcare are adopting it for varying uses.

The discussion raised several study cases from many countries and governments around the world which are going digital, embracing blockchain technology to improve their bureaucracies and resolve issues on civil rights and public interests.

Estonia uses blockchain to manage the information of identity card and the whole system of the civil rights.

South Korea has heavily invested in blockchain technology to promote investigation of their elections.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees uses blockchain to store information on immigrants and also the mechanics of the digital money so the immigrants can use money in everyday life and for food.

In the private sector, the diamond industry uses blockchain to record and verify the source of the diamonds at every single step to end the trade in “Blood Diamonds”.

In addition, the justice system has kickstarted the development of an application that utilises blockchain to store digitalised evidence in order to reduce exposure to counterfeits and enhance user-friendliness and further develop the use of artificial intelligence in the future.

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