UK Ministry of Justice talks up potential benefits of blockchain for the criminal justice system
The UK Government suggested distributed ledger technology could have a crucial role in securing and verifying the evidence of the future
Ministry of Justice - Image credit: Charles Hoffman via Creative Commons
As more prosecutions rely on evidence that is collected and presented digitally, blockchain technology may have a crucial role to play in the criminal justice system, the UK Government has suggested.
In a blog post, the UK Ministry of Justice discusses how distributed ledger technology (DLT) might come to be an important tool in the use of evidence gathered by police officers’ body-worn cameras.
“In a world where the majority of people have high-quality video-editing software available on their phone, maintaining trust in the integrity of [such videos] is a complex and extremely important problem,” the MoJ said.
- Getting the balance right: a Holyrood roundtable discussion on digital justice
- Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service outlines new digital model for summary court procedure
- Safety first: Justice Secretary Michael Matheson on progress in Scotland
The metadata on these video file that could be gathered by DLT – commonly known as a ‘hash’ – would represent something akin to a digital fingerprint, according to the ministry.
This would mean they could later be presented in court with clear, irrefutable evidence that they had not been tampered with.
“If that chunk of video were needed in court, it could be unambiguously, cryptographically verified that the chunk of video seen in court is exactly identical to that particular chunk recorded at that time, and has not been altered or processed in any way,” the MoJ said.
The department added: “Where processing is needed, for instance to enhance clarity, hashes of the processed clip could also be logged on the blockchain.
“The original source footage could then be compared to demonstrate that the processing has not been excessive or introduced unreasonable artefacts.”
The MoJ also suggested that the effective use of a technology like blockchain – in which everyone could see records, but only the police could create or alter them – would, essentially, remove any possibility of evidence falsification.
It said: “As the blockchain is distributed, append-only, and near real-time, even the most ardent conspiracy theorists could verify for themselves that the evidence has not been tampered with – there could be no possibility of records being falsified after the fact without detection.”
The department stressed that, for the time being, its work with blockchain remains nothing more than a “thought experiment”.
“But the possibilities of revolutionary technology to transform not just government, but society as a whole, are genuinely exciting,” the MoJ said.
Research has found that a quarter of officers need to access six or more databases for a single case
Civil Online will allow simple procedure claims and responses to be made online
The ICO will be expected to do “more of everything” when new data compliance law comes into force
A public consultation has been launched on alterations to so-called ‘snoopers’ charter’
BT's Amy Lemberger argues that having the right security in place to protect your organisation is no longer just an option. It is a necessity.
Vodafone explores some of the ways IoT is significantly improving public sector service delivery