Can blockchain solve government’s ‘terrible vaccination mistake’

He said this approach would be much faster and more energy-efficient than the public blockchain system used in bitcoin because TrustGrid’s blockchain uses a consortium of trusted parties, such as government agencies or universities, to verify transactions and eliminate fraud.

Bitcoin’s blockchain, uses “proof of work” to eliminate fraud: a system that involves computers making computations that get increasingly slow and use more electricity as the blockchain gets bigger.

Much more secure

Mr Palmer said TrustGrid was now in negotiations with the NSW government to supply it with the consortium-based blockchain.

Services Australia, the government agency tasked with distributing vaccination certificates, recently allowed the NSW and Victorian state governments to access the certificates through their state-based mobile phone apps.

Those apps access the Australian Immunisation Register run by Services Australia, then add information about a citizen’s immunisation status to the COVID-safe check-in screen on the app.

While Mr Palmer said the new system was vastly more secure than the original PDF-based system, it still had the problem that it was not machine-readable for businesses.

“When you have hundreds or thousands of staff, it’s not efficient for an organisation to check everybody’s phones to see whether they’re vaccinated or not,” he said.

Much better would be to have the vaccination stored on a blockchain, which could not be altered but would still be under the control of the individual.

Each entry on the blockchain ledger would be encrypted, and could only be unlocked when the individual supplies a passphrase, or a cryptographic key, or even biometric information.

That way, employees could pass on their verified data to the workplace without the workplace ever needing to store the credential itself. It would remain on the blockchain, and only information about whether it had been checked or not would be stored in the workplace system, Mr Palmer said.

“Citizens would have control of whom the credential gets shown to, and what parts of the credential get shown” he said.