President Donald Trump has signed a $700 billion military spending bill that includes a mandate for a blockchain cybersecurity research study.
As CoinDesk reported in September, the bill – as advanced by the U.S. Senate at the time – called for the Department of Defense to investigate “potential offensive and defensive cyber applications of blockchain technology and other distributed database technologies.”
The language itself is part of the wider Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT), which focuses on improving the government’s IT and cybersecurity systems.
The blockchain study, according to the latest version of the text (which was ultimately signed earlier today by Trump), will constitute “an assessment of efforts by foreign powers, extremist organizations, and criminal networks to utilize such technologies;…[and] an assessment of the use or planned use of such technologies by the Federal Government and critical infrastructure networks.”
The results of the study, according to the text, are due to be delivered to Congress sometime in the next 6 months. While it is set to be prepared by the Department of Defense – which has explored a number of applications in the past – the final product is likely to include input from other federal agencies and departments.
And though it constitutes a minor element in major funding law, the measure, proposed by Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, could help spur investigation into possible blockchain uses within the U.S. government, some observers say.
“Blockchain was clearly one of the technological capabilities that Congress meant for agencies to look at, and what they were trying to do was create dollars with some flexibility to them so that agencies would have their own discretion on what they invest in,” Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president of public sector at the Information Technology Industry Council in Washington, D.C., told CoinDesk last month.
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