Three Experts on Blockchains

There are two bills submitted to the General Assembly this year to research Blockchain technology. One to solve a sketchily defined, possible problem with our voter registration system, and another to use Blockchain technology for online voting. We will have more to say about the bills and those specific problems later, but let us start with three experts opinions of Blockchain technology itself.

Bruce Schneier article at Wired  There’s No Good Reason to Trust Blockchain Technology  <read>

Bruce Schneier is a highly respected security expert from Harvard University often a guest on the PBS Newshour. Private Blockchains are the type used in West Virginia in prototyping a system for electronic voting – a system hidden from public scrutiny and testing, Probably what would be considered for both of those systems in Connecticut. Schneier says:

Private blockchains are completely uninteresting. … In general, they have some external limitation on who can interact with the blockchain and its features. These are not anything new; they’re distributed append-only data structures with a list of individuals authorized to add to it. Consensus protocols have been studied in distributed systems for more than 60 years. Append-only data structures have been similarly well covered. They’re blockchains in name only, and—as far as I can tell—the only reason to operate one is to ride on the blockchain hype…

A public Blockchain is what most cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin use, Schneier says:

Do you need a public blockchain? The answer is almost certainly no. A blockchain probably doesn’t solve the security problems you think it solves. The security problems it solves are probably not the ones you have. (Manipulating audit data is probably not your major security risk.) A false trust in blockchain can itself be a security risk. The inefficiencies, especially in scaling, are probably not worth it. I have looked at many blockchain applications, and all of them could achieve the same security properties without using a blockchain—of course, then they wouldn’t have the cool name.

Vinton Cerf is one of the Fathers of the Internet. Schneier quotes him in a simple summary of Cerf’s views of Blockchains:

Bill Black On The Real News  Cryptocurrency Firms Regularly Lose Codes and Money <watch> Less technical but clearly undermines the claim that even for cryptocurrency, Blockchains do not solve every problem and are over hyped.

****Update 4/29/2019 Moody’s agrees with Schneier:  Bond Rating Agency Moody’s Warns on Risks of Private Blockchains <read>

 

 

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