Blockchain and OECD data repositories: opportunities and policymaking implications

The term blockchain refers to the core data structure of a category of decentralized database architectures that rely on cryptographic techniques and distributed consensus (based originally on peer-to-peer network architectures) to provide tamper-proof distributed ledgers, leveraging previous research on algorithms but considering a trustless environment (Wattenhofer, 2016). The first widespread blockchain application was that of Bitcoin. It used that technology to implement the possibility of interchanging a token (a digital currency) among non-trusted parties without the need of a central authority and preventing double spending.

The application of blockchains have since Bitcoin inception be extended to the notion of “smart contracts” – first proposed by Nick Szabo (1997), in which non-trusted parties can interact with the blockchain for different kinds of transactions including some logic that can be implemented in Turing-complete programming languages. This supports the implementation of token interchange systems similar to Bitcoin, but also many other applications as voting, registries or futures’ markets or even accounting ( Jun and Vasarhelyi, 2017; Lemieux, 2017). The main current exponent of such technology is Ethereum (Wood, 2014) that we consider here as the foundation for the analysis.



Data repositories are a source of wealth, the value and utility of which until recently have remained under-explored. Recent advances in sophisticated technology, particularly analytics and blockchain, suggest that our ability to use data repositories might increase efficiently. It was argued that blockchain not only revolutionizes the conceptualization of data repositories but also the very use of data repositories and their potential for the purposes of research and decision making. The point was made that it is particularly valid in the context of official socio-demographic and economic statistics, which are unique and used widely across fields and domains.

Moreover, unlike traditional databases, blockchain technology makes it possible that immutable records can be stored. This means that the artifacts can be used for further exploitation or repetition of results. In practical terms, the use of blockchain technology creates the opportunity to enhance the evidence-based approach to policy design and policy recommendations that the OECD fosters. That is, it might enable the stakeholders not only to use the data available in the OECD repositories but also to assess corrections to a given policy strategy or modify its scope.

Citation: Miguel-Angel Sicilia, Anna Visvizi, (2018) “Blockchain and OECD data repositories: opportunities and policymaking implications”, Library Hi Tech, https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-12-2017-0276

References

Jun, D. and Vasarhelyi, M.A. (2017), “Toward blockchain-based accounting and assurance”, Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 5-21.

Lemieux, V. (2017), “Blockchain recordkeeping: a SWOT analysis”, Information Management Journal, Vol. 51 No. 6, pp. 20-27.

Wattenhofer, R. (2016), The Science of the Blockchain, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Seattle.

Wood, G. (2014), “Ethereum: a secure decentralised generalised transaction ledger”, Ethereum Project Yellow Paper No. 151.

Blockchain and competition policy

In June 2018, the OECD heard from a range of experts on these opportuntities and risks. This page contains all available materials.

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