UK National Archives Tests Using Blockchain For Historical Document Preservation
“A joint research project in the United Kingdom investigates the use of blockchain technology to ensure the accuracy of historical documents.”
Nine months ago, the University of Surrey in collaboration with the Open Data Institute and the UK National Archives began work on blockchain-based research project, ARCHANGEL. The project is funded by the UK Research Council and aims to use blockchain technology to ensure that historical document records resistant to alteration.
The original plan will last 18 months and the project is currently expected to span two years.
By creating an electronic record of hashed digital content and placing the data on the blockchain, where any data changes can be tracked. Although this does not solve the problem of falsifying the source document, it can verify whether the record in the archive itself has been changed during the upload of the hashed document to the blockchain.
Jim Sheridan, Digital Director of the National Archives, said in a recent interview with ETHNews:
“We’re particularly interested in situations where the archive has information that is currently closed [to the general public]. We put the hash on the blockchain today. And then … when the information can be made available, people will be able to verify – when they see the open information – that during the period of time it was held by the archive, it’s not been changed.”
The involved parties are considering whether to establish ARCHANGEL as a permissioned blockchain, which means that only the participating national archives, universities and libraries can upload information, although the information on the blockchain can be viewed publicly.
Sheridan explained that such a system would avoid the main flaw of the public blockchain: “We think one of the benefits of a permissioned blockchain would be that it wouldn’t suffer from this recentralization happening on the general blockchain because of the economy of scale and compute power.”
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