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For better or worse, blockchain birth certificates are officially here

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The first baby to have their birth certificate officially recorded on the blockchain has been registered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Carried out using IBM’s Blockchain Platform, the blockchain birth certificate offers a glimpse at the way that the cryptographic record-keeping technology is creeping into every aspect of our lives. Right down to recording the existence of new beings (like baby Álvaro de Medeiros Mendonça) as they arrive on planet Earth.

“The birth certificate is a foundational identity document of which trust is established for downstream derived identity documents such as a [driver’s license],” Dan Gisolfi, chief technology officer for Trusted Identity at IBM, told Digital Trends. “This first of its kind [demonstration means] the establishment of an immutable audit trail of transactions from approvers that leads to a government attestation about an individual’s identity and reputation. Just like in the physical card domain, the issuance of a digital birth record is a stepping stone to bootstrapping a broader digital credential marketplace.”

Got that? Amid the marketing speak, this means that blockchain is increasingly being looked as a technology that will be used to record all kinds of official records. Buying a house? Record it on the blockchain. Getting married? What could be more of a demonstration of you and your partner’s unending love for one another than immortalizing it on a distributed, decentralized, public ledger?

“The birth registry is aimed at reducing registration processing time, improving the experience of all workflow stakeholders and increasing trust in the registration system,” Gisolfi continued. “The current workflow is extremely manual and plagued by the potential of human errors during the process. This [is a pioneering] effort to digitize a foundational identity document for all governments to learn from. This effort is exciting because it demonstrates the importance of trust at both the data and identity levels.”

The birth was registered on July 8, although news has only been shared now. Unlike previous ways of registering births, which could take several hours to complete, this new approach can reportedly generate a “fully valid certificate in no more than 15 minutes.” Now if only someone could come up with a way to make those other more physical parts of childbirth a little bit easier!

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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