State Department and Coca-Cola to use blockchain in fight against forced labor

Coca-Cola, Bitfury, Emercoin, and the U.S. State Department are joining forces to fight forced labor using blockchain technology.  The goal is to use blockchain’s ledger tech to create a secure registry for workers that can be used to fight forced labor, child labor, and other such exploitative practices.

While best known for its use in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, there has been a push to use the blockchain’s ledger technology for more humanitarian purposes, and this is the first time that the State Department has used iy in such a way.

Blockchain Trust Accelerator, a non-profit involved in this project, says that the goal is to use the ledger to provide a safe and secure way to validate workers and their contracts to Coca-Cola and other multinational corporations.

On the technological side of things, Bitfury and Emercoin will be building and providing the blockchain necessary for this project to function.

The State Department will be taking an advisory role and will provide expertise on labor rights and the protection of workers. In an email, Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Busby said that while the blockchain technology cannot compel companies or authorities to abide by labor contracts and rights, it can provide evidence of those contracts, which may encourage those in authority to abide by rule of law.

According to the International Labor Organization, almost 25 million people work in forced labor environments. About 47 percent of those people are located in Asia.

Beverage companies such as Coca-Cola have came under fire in recent years for failure to adequately protect the workers who harvest their sugarcane. A study by KnowTheChain noted that the majority of food and drink groups fall short of providing safeguards against forced labor.

For its part, Coca-Cola has committed to addressing this issue and says that this recent partnership with the State Department is just one of several blockchain-focused projects it has been working on for the past few years.

The fizzy company’s head of global workplace rights, Brent Wilson, told Reuters that “We are partnering with the pilot of this project to further increase transparency and efficiency of the verification process related to labor policies within our supply chain.”