Photo by pina messina on Unsplash

Blockchain for a transparent Passports Act

Mauritius has recently proposed an amendment to the Passports Act to allow a fee to be charged for issuing passports to high net-worth individuals. This measure has stirred a lot of controversy among the government opposition and other people. In this article, we will analyze a blockchain-based transparent system should this proposal go forward.

Why Blockchain?

The main issue with this measure is how to allow the people and authorities involved to grant passports to the right people, transparently and with full traceability. Blockchain allows immutable records and a decentralized way of consulting the records thus eliminating any cases of lost paper or digital records. In the next sections of this article, we will see how to ensure that all the procedures are done transparently and are easily verifiable upon request.

System Structure

The system will be designed in such a way to ensure:

  • authenticity of information
  • availability of information

The following aspects will be the most important tenets of the system:

  • records signing
  • criteria assessment
  • information consultation

Records Signing

This feature will ensure that each step or procedure will need to be signed by the person or department responsible in the chain of authority. This will discourage any decision taken unethically or for illegal reasons like bribes and abuse of power. This will also allow traceability of all the information related to a specific case or person.

Criteria Assessment

The assessment system will most probably be based on a list of criteria that the applicant will need to satisfy in order to be eligible. Each piece of information including documents related to a specific criteria will either need to be stored on chain or off-chain with the hashes being stored on the blockchain. These can be achieved using smart contracts on Ethereum (StoragePlus.io is a such a Mauritius-based service allowing easy document authentication via Ethereum).

Information Consultation

Freedom of information is an important facet of this whole system. All information should be available on request by a certified person or entity, including reporters or independent verifiers. These data will be made available via one or more private keys that the government might store on their end and more keys distributed to watchdogs.

Public vs Private Records

An important point which needs to be noted is the distinction between which information will be made public and private. By default, all information stored in the smart contracts will be private including details about who signed the records, who assessed the criteria, and so on. However, people with the right private keys or access credentials will be able to consult these information easily.

Data stored on a public blockchain does not mean that these information are available to anyone — these information could be hashed or encrypted, thus private.

The current state of the blockchain technology allows such systems to be developed and deployed easily in countries like Mauritius. The latter could be an ideal test bed for such blockchain applications and which could easily be deployed in other countries as well. The only thing missing in this whole idea is the willingness of the government to adopt such a transparent and traceable system.

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Suyash Sumaroo

Suyash Sumaroo

Experienced in the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology and Founder of Codevigor and Horizon Africa, companies focused on the use of Blockchain technology.