What has happened?

The UK Ministry of Justice is exploring whether distributed ledger technology can be a tool for protecting digital evidence.

What does this mean?

In a blog post, Balaji Anbil, the ministry's Deputy Director and head of digital architecture and cybersecurity, wrote that he recently hosted a meeting on the use of blockchain technologies in securing digital evidence, as part of the ministry's plans to simplify processes.

The meeting was headed by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in conjunction with the Open Innovation team at Cabinet Office.

Anbil wrote that "an architectural style, distributed ledgers enable new innovative data solutions that support both high degrees of integrity and de-centralisation".

He added:

"At HMCTS, we are passionate about the application of novel solutions to traditional challenges including evidence sharing, identity management and ensuring citizens have maximum control over their own information. Our service designs are focused on value, simplicity and use of the best modern technology approaches. This brings numerous benefits including cost effective and timely delivery and future proof solutions."

During the meeting, Dr. Sadek Ferdous, Technology Policy Fellow and Research Associate at Imperial College, provided an overview of his latest research on blockchain. Ferdous’s research includes assessing the advantages and disadvantages of private and public DLT systems, their relative security, scalability and cost profiles.

Ferdous also provided an overview of both Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth DLTs implementations and summarised key research challenges and innovations in both private and public sectors.

The discussion also turned on to the suitability of blockchain to a range of businesses challenges, drawing on lessons from other countries.

Anbil explained that, for example, Estonia is an early adopter of the technology and "has developed innovative citizen identity management solutions using blockchain".

In the UK, researchers at the University of Surrey are also working with the National Archives on DLT solutions to secure digital archives, which HMCTS is following with interest.

The post also noted that HMCTS will trial the technology for "inter-agency evidence sharing" later this year.

Next steps

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