Seminole County, FL— September 19, 2019 — Seminole County Tax Collector, Joel M. Greenberg, announced today that his office has contracted Tampa blockchain development and consulting firm, BlockSpaces, to begin early stage development of a blockchain based, county issued digital identification proof of concept. The purpose of the program is to demonstrate how blockchain technology may be utilized to give citizens the power to own and control their personal data and credentials.
“Right now, there are over a billion people in the world who don’t have a way to claim ownership over their identity, and almost daily we hear news of how our online identity has been compromised and exploited“, said BlockSpaces cofounder, Gabe Higgins. “Furthermore, without a physical artifact proving your identity, citizens are nearly exempt from fully participating in society. They can’t vote, own property, receive government services, open a bank account, or even find employment. The intent of this project is to show blockchain has the potential to bring identify into the digital age and give control of personal data back to the entities who should really own it. The citizens themselves.”
Blockchain is a rapidly emerging technology that proposes a peer-to-peer, cryptographically secure ledger system of information and record keeping. Most commonly recognized as the technology that underpins the cryptocurrency, bitcoin, blockchain is now being explored across multiple industries including banking, manufacturing, real estate, and healthcare. In 2017, the city of Zug, Switzerland began creating blockchain based digital IDs for its citizens, and in May 2018, West Virginia partnered with technology firm Voatz to pilot a blockchain based mobile voting app for deployed voters in two counties.
In February 2019, Greenberg created a new position of Blockchain and Legislative Affairs Director and appointed former Tampa resident, Samuel Armes, to the role. The appointment was the first government position anywhere in the United States specifically created to advance blockchain initiatives on the county and state level. Armes has an extensive background in blockchain and government spaces and did research for United States Special Operations Command and for the Department of State on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. He also founded the Florida Blockchain Business Association, an organization created to foster an innovative and entrepreneurial environment for all blockchain related businesses in Florida.
“Under the status quo, we are subject to the terms and conditions of another party when it comes to our data,” Armes said. “Whether it is a corporation like Google, Facebook, or EquaFax or even a government, we don’t own and control our own identifiers. While these 3rd party actors may have a role in the identity ecosystem, blockchain brings new self-sovereign tools that will shift the power balance back to the people, and we intend to make Seminole County and Florida a leader in these efforts.”