A child chain called Ignis by software company Jelurida will be a part of a new project – QualiSig – that has for a goal secure, blockchain-based communication between Austrian authorities, the country’s institutions and citizens in the times of the pandemic. Data control will be the responsibility of citizens.
Jelurida develops and maintains the Ardor and Nxt blockchains. The Ardor blockchain is a decentralized proof-of-stake blockchain that introduced the architecture of child-chains. This means that Ardor is the parent chain, which serves as the security and consensus layer, while there are child-chains like Ignis rely on Ardor but enable additional features, the company’s co-founder and Director, Lior Yaffe, told Our.
Now, the company took a role of a partner that will provide consultancy for the QualiSig project, which was launched by Austrian trust service provider (A-Trust) in partnership with several organizations including Donau-Universität Krems public university, the press release states.
The project’s aim is to establish a secure, data-sharing communication channel between citizens, government agencies, and institutions commissioned by authorities, the announcement adds. It will combine qualified digital signatures with blockchain.
The project was awarded a EUR 60,000 (USD 67,350) grant from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation, and Technology and the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs, following their response to the Corona Emergency Call of the Research Promotion Agency (FFG) for COVID-19 prevention.
Jelurida’s Yaffe told Our that, in the case of QualiSig, secure information of Austrian COVID-19 cases will be kept as a token on the Ignis blockchain. It is the citizens who will use it, and therefore “the information will be kept securely on their device and be submitted to the blockchain in an encrypted manner which only they can decrypt.”
Yaffe adds: “This allows the citizens to maintain control over their digital identity, and makes it their responsibility.”
People can run an Ardor light node, which is a mobile app that maintains synchronization with the blockchain, which is “very cheap, easy and has low requirements,” and it allows them to verify the entire consensus layer that protects their data – this then results in an increase of their own security, argues the Jelurida boss.
Alternatively, they may run a blockchain full node, which Yaffe describes as “relatively simple” since a full Ardor node can be run on a phone.
Finally, people can use the official app of QualiSig, which can be configured to connect to a remote blockchain full node of their choice.
“Bottom line is, citizens are left with a choice,” says Yaffe.
Use cases: health advancement, fake news and fraud prevention
The press release cites health as a use case, saying that a secure digital folder utilized for health status verification takes into account the privacy of people involved, while digitally signed and verified news updates help in the fight against fake news in the times of health crises.
Signing data with a digital ID not only helps to combat fake news but also allows peer-to-peer (P2P) communication from authorities to citizens. “As it is already possible regarding signed PDFs through the A-Trust E-Tresor (electronic safe). Now, not only PDFs can be signed but (encrypted) messages directly,” says Alexander Pfeiffer, Danube University Krems Researcher and co-founder of Picapipe GmbH.
Pfeiffer and fellow researcher Thomas Wernbacher are the authors of the research proposal. The combination of digital qualified signatures such as the “A-Trust Handy-Signature” and Ardor’s Ignis child chain is based on Pfeiffer’s current research, the announcement adds.
A lot of “fraudulent activities happen through people pretending to be someone else and knock on citizens doors,” Pfeiffer says, so “any service company (eg. gas reading) that knocks on your door – especially if unannounced, can use the door-to-door application.”
“Combining the ‘mobile phone ID signature from A-Trust’ to enable storing the data related to the service on a non-tradeable utility token created on the Ignis network – creates a high amount of safety for the citizens being able to read the information related to the person knocking on the door and his ID and tasks he should perform,” says Pfeiffer.
Lior adds to this that “a government utilizing a public blockchain could become the ultimate form of democracy.” He adds that not only is the government elected by its citizens, but it gives them back “the power to control their data and decide how to share it. This will assist in preventing future privacy leaks and data hacks by governments and possibly tech firms, as we’ve seen quite a lot in the past.”