Using the Blockchain to Change the World's Governments

BitNation is using blockchain to create an option to current governments.

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 23: A telekom technician informs a visitors about e-government during the T-City project information day at Zeppelin hangar on February 23, 2011 in Friedrichshafen, Germany. T-City is the joint future lab of Deutsche Telekom and the city of Friedrichshafen. Friedrichshafen was selected as the T-City in February 2007 from a total of 51 applicants. Up until 2012 T-City Friedrichshafen will be a showcase for modern information and communication technology, demonstrating how it improves the quality of life and community in the city. For the first time, citizens, companies, schools, scientists, the medical community and the city administration are collaborating on innovative applications for day-to-day use in and for their city. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images). Getty Images

Blockchain technology is the new hot buzz word around corporate boardrooms these days.  Many financial firms see the blockchain as providing a blueprint for ways in which they can make their current infrastructure more efficient.

But, can the blockchain also solve the inefficiencies within governments as well?

Blockchain technology relies on a distributed network that seems custom made for a democratic system.

As we’re seeing with The DAO, which is using blockchain technology to create a democratic method of allowing DAO token holders to vote on projects that it will fund and potentially, profit from, this structure can provide for an organizational structure that can work and disrupt current systems, such as capital market funding. After all, The DAO has raised over $150 million in crowd-sourced funding for its concept.

Now, there’s an organization that not only sees the potential for the blockchain to provide a structure for governmental services but is actually implementing it as well.​

Earlier this year, an organization called BitNation released its Decentralised Borderless Voluntary Nation (DBVN) Constitution.

BitNation and "de-Centralized" Governance

The founder of BitNation, Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, made the announcement of their Constitution along with Alex Van de Sande, a lead designer for Ethereum.

  By harnessing the power of the blockchain through an Ethereum based structure, Templehof is serious about the impact that BitNation can make on the world.

Templehof believes that the key aspect of BitNation is its ability to provide a “decentralized” governance model.  In this way, she believes that her “decentralized” structure is different from those employed by other governments because there’s no single point of failure.

She goes on to say in an article by the International Business Times that, "Decentralised also means personal autonomy. We decide what we do. Nobody tells us. And being borderless means that we are not confined by a passport to live in an area of war or famine. That's as wrong as judging people on the colour of their skin or sexual preference."

Through its use of code and the blockchain, BitNation is not just a concept but is set up to provide a working governmental structure, albeit an e-governmental structure.  Among the services that are provided to anyone who wishes to join BitNation are notary services, wedding licenses, and educational opportunities.  You can also get a BitNation ID card, debit card and can even follow the progress of the BitNation Space Agency.

As a former fan and user of Second Life, I see similarities, but the ability for the blockchain to play a truly democratic role in structure and governance makes the comparison moot.  The reality is also that BitNation is not just an exercise in technology. 

The United Nations Notices

It’s a concept that has even caught the attention of the United Nations, which produced a working paper on how the blockchain can empower global communities.

the paper specifically refers to BitNation, which they see as “one of the most radical articulations of the techno-libertarian message.”  The paper specifically details what BitNation intends to do,

“Bitnation has presented a vision—at least in principle—of hosting completely alternative state institutions (such as security and legal institutions) on blockchain systems, describing states as governance service providers that might be outcompeted by technological platforms. In the words of founder Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, “Bitnation is a Governance 2.0 Operating System, designed to disrupt the nation-state oligopoly through offering more convenient, secure and cost-efficient governance services””

One of the interesting aspects of the paper is the intent that Tempelhof has in creating an “option” for world citizens who would like to “’opt out’ of states and ‘buy into’ new governance institutions in the same way one might select coffee from a supermarket.”

Although this concept seems radical, the reality is that a country is currently embracing some of the services of BitNation and utilizing them currently.

Estonia Jumps Onboard

The small Baltic country of Estonia has recently announced that it is working with BitNation on its e-residency program which will allow anyone around the world to take advantage of the secure authenticated online identity the Estonian government already offers its 1.3 million residents.  

Estonia's e-Residency program director, Kaspar Korjus was quoted in an article that "In Estonia, we believe that people should be able to freely choose their digital/public services best fit to them, regardless of the geographical area where they were arbitrarily born. We're truly living in exciting times when nation states and virtual nations compete and collaborate with each other on an international market, to provide better governance services.

Ten years ago, John Perry Barlow (co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and lyricist for the Grateful Dead) expressed his declaration for independence in cyberspace when he said at Davos, Switzerland that, “Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live. We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

Ten years later, because of blockchain technology, Barlow’s radical (and libertarian) concept may be finding its creation in Templehof’s constitution and the efforts of BitNation.  Only the future can tell where it will lead those who join or avoid it.

Although we hear the term, blockchain echoed throughout the boardrooms of corporate America, it remains to be seen if we’ll be hearing it throughout the halls of the US government.  These days there seems to be very little heard there that would be considered constructive and forward thinking.