UK National Archives to Test Blockchain Tech for Official Record Keeping
(TNA) The National Archives, is the official records-keeper in the UK’s government. This TNA is said to use the Blockchain technology in order to create a new path of accurate verification of the archived documents.
What is an ARCHANGEL and why use it?
Initially, University of Surrey had won 3 blockchain projects. They were ARCHANGEL, voting and health care.
ARCHANGEL is funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It is supported by the University of Surrey, the UK Open Data Institute and The National Archives. It basically uses Blockchain technology in order to have a permission locked blockchain which allows the archives to register the various documents onto this blockchain.
This provides security as only the authorized parties would do the changes to the blockchain.
TNA noted that the computer files tend to change continuously as well as become obsolete during Digital Archiving. For accessibility of an older file, it must first be converted to a new file format.
Also, files could be changed with wrong information, which makes the entire process undermine accuracy.
How does an Audit Trail help?
The TNA blog noted that hashes would be registered when a record is changed. This leads to an audit trail which indicates how much a particular document has changed. Later, the records are verified using Cryptographic algorithms.
A ledger which is maintained in a collaborative-manner would be distributed not only across the archives in the UK but also globally.
The Cornell Summary-
According to a project’s summary in Cornell University Library, the ARCHANGEL remains as a prototype which is built over the Ethereum infrastructure even though it is fully functional.
Standard Binary Hashing like SHA-256 is used for the hashing of the content.
The summary as noted by the project architects mentioned that certain type of documents like images, PDFs or videos, require specialized hashing. This is mainly because video, for example, would offer an ability to extract the hashes which are content aware, i.e. hashing of scanned documents which are sensitive to tampering but there’s no effect on few factors like imaging device or illumination.
The project is presently using smart contracts, with which one could not verify or search but he could write to the blockchains.
The architects are also in talks to consider the integrated W3C which was proposed by PROV standard for the purpose of document visioning. This is considered because the blocks could only be added in order to supersede a previous content from that particular blockchain.
The summary was concluded by mentioning that the possibilities of such views can also be explored in the future.
But presently, the trust in the document integrity is solely based on the reputation of the institution which contains the centralized authorities like the national government archive or the university.