Congressional Proposal for Blockchain Study Needs a Little Work

“$700 Billion Senate Defense Bill Calls for Blockchain Cybersecurity Study”

https://www.coindesk.com/700-billion-senate-defense-bill-calls-blockchain-cybersecurity-study/

“A $700 billion defense bill passed by the US Senate includes a mandate for a blockchain study to be conducted by the Department of Defense.”

“Yesterday, the US Senate passed a massive defense spending package that provides hundreds of billions of dollars to the US military. Public records show that an amendment included in that bill, proposed by Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, would “require a report on cyber applications of blockchain technology” if signed into law.”

Perhaps a good idea, but probably deserves some discussion.

The amendment specifically calls for

“…a report on the potential offensive and defensive cyber applications of blockchain technology and other distributed database technologies and an assessment of efforts by foreign powers, extremist organizations, and criminal networks to utilize these technologies. Such report shall also include an assessment of the use or planned use of blockchain technologies by the United States Government or critical infrastructure networks and the vulnerabilities of such networks to cyber attacks.”

For one thing, I would recommend deleting the option for the report to be submitted in classified form, while possibly still allowing it to be submitted “…in unclassified form with a classified annex.” I hope people will discuss this, or at least get the issue into the legislative history, before this goes through. It would be a shame to spend taxpayer dollars for such a study, only to have it buried as a classified document.

Here’s an excerpt from the Sept 18, 2017 version of the proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018:

https://www.congress.gov/amendment/115th-congress/senate-amendment/1055/text

AMENDMENT NO. 1055

(Purpose: To require a report on cyber applications of blockchain technology)

At the end of subtitle C of title XVI, add the following:

SEC. 1630C. REPORT ON CYBER APPLICATIONS OF BLOCKCHAIN

TECHNOLOGY.

(a) Report Required.–Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the heads of such other agencies and departments as the Secretary considers appropriate, shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on the potential offensive and defensive cyber applications of blockchain technology and other distributed database technologies and an assessment of efforts by foreign powers, extremist organizations, and criminal networks to utilize these technologies. Such report shall also include an assessment of the use or planned use of blockchain technologies by the United States Government or critical infrastructure networks and the vulnerabilities of such networks to cyber attacks.

(b) Form of Report.–The report required by (a) may be submitted–

(1) in classified form; or

(2) in unclassified form with a classified annex.

(c) Appropriate Committees of Congress Defined.–In this section, the term “appropriate committees of Congress” means–

[[Page S5795]]

(1) the Committee on Armed Services, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate; and

(2) Committee on Armed Services, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives.

 

 

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