UK Blockchain Dole Pilot Under Attack

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Last week Blockchain News reported that Govcoin Systems is working on utilising Blockchain for social welfare payments distribution in a new trial for the UK department for Work and Pensions, and this week it’s come under fire from leading online activists. 

The announcement sparked public criticism from current and former members of the UK’s Government Digital Service tweeted:

Joshua Chambers from govinsider.asia caught the Twitter protest:

The current head of the UK GDS, Steve Foreshew-Cain then wrote “You can be sure that the user need wasn’t: Pls record forever, immutably, details of my benefits and restrict how I spend them”.

He continued that “it’s not the most vulnerable in our society being served here but divisive ideology of ruler and ruled.”

Ben Hammersley, a former advisor to the prime minister, added that the move is “spectacularly sinister.”

Loosemore also revealed that the announcement of this project was first made on the day that he decided to resign from the Government Digital Service. This departure formed part of an exodus from the unit of a number of founding staff members.

Opposition politician Chi Onwurah asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Stephen Crabb, for comment in the House of Commons following the reaction on social media.

“Government is trialing Distributed Ledger technology or Blockchain for payments and spending of claimant’s benefits. It’s a fantastic new technology, but government’s own report says it needs a regulatory ethical and data framework,” she said.

“How do we know that vulnerable benefits claimants are not being forced to share their data without giving proper informed consent?”

The Minister responded that:

“…this kind of technology is very new, I confess I’m not an expert on it.”

This UK project is the first to trial Blockchain in the welfare system.

 

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Founder of Blockchain News and The Hackitarians Foundation, Richard Kastelein is an award winning publisher and editor, hackathon organiser and entrepreneur. He has written over 700 articles at Blockchain News, has a massive network in the Blockchain arena and is available as a speaker and consultant. (richard@the-blockchain.com) Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on technology at events in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Gdansk, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Oxford, Rio de Janeiro, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, and Zurich. A Creative Technologist & Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) his career began in the Native Press (Canadian Arctic) and he later spent a decade in the Caribbean media. Currently, he writes occasionally for Wired Insights, Guardian & Virgin and his articles have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German & French.