Special Issue "Blockchain Technology and Recordkeeping"

A special issue of Computers (ISSN 2073-431X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Victoria Lemieux
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Information, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Interests: Blockchain technology; Trustworthy records; Records and information management; Risk management; information visualization and visual analytics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Records provide evidence of business processes, activities, and transactions and are information assets. Distributed ledger technologies (DLT), including blockchains, combine the use of cryptography and distributed networks to achieve a novel form of record creation designed for tamper resistance and immutability. Over the past several years, these capabilities have made DLTs, including blockchains, increasingly popular as a general-purpose technology used for recordkeeping in a variety of sectors and industry domains, yet many open challenges and issues, both theoretical and applied, remain. This Special Issue of Computers focuses on exploring the frontiers of blockchain/DLT and recordkeeping. We invite submissions of original research work covering novel theories, innovative methods, and meaningful applications that can potentially lead to significant advances in blockchain/DLT and recordkeeping, including but not limited to: 

- Ontologies, taxonomies and typologies of blockchain/DLT and recordkeeping;

- Archival science theory and the design of blockchain/DLT record systems;

- Creation of authoritative blockchain/DLT records, including:

  • Authenticity of records;
  • Reliability of records;
  • Integrity of records;
  • Usability/discoverability of records;

- Using blockchain/DLT as records systems (e.g., in real estate transactions, supply chain management, healthcare);

- Semantic interoperability in blockchain/DLT record systems;

- Data and record quality in blockchain/DLT systems;

- Applications of artificial intelligence and blockchain/DLT for recordkeeping;

- Application of blockchain/DLT to records management functions (e.g., retention scheduling and appraisal);

- Long-term preservation of records and blockchain/DLT;

- E-discovery, digital records forensics and blockchain/DLT;

- Data protection, privacy and blockchain/DLT;

- Distributed records storage and blockchain/DLT;

- Security of records using blockchain/DLT.

Dr. Victoria Lemieux
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Computers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Blockchain
  • Distributed ledger technology
  • Records
  • Recordkeeping
  • Records management
  • Computational archival science

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Digital archives relying on blockchain: Overcoming the limitations of data immutability
Authors: Hrvoje Stančić; Vladimir Bralić
Affiliation: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia; University of Applied Sciences Velika Gorica, Croatia
Abstract: Using blockchain in digital archival systems and relying on advantages of immutability of its data architecture also has certain disadvantages. Archives, digital and otherwise, are primarily concerned with preserving records in their original and trustworthy state. Because of this, immutable blockchain data appears to be a logical choice for such systems, particularly those aiming to preserve digitally signed records by applying the TrustChain model (Bralić, Stančić, Stengård, 2020). At the same time, archives maintain records which of necessity may need to change over the long-term for purposes of digital preservation because of advancements in information and communication technology but also in description standards. It is a requirement of archival preservation to be able to update records metadata in order not only to guarantee the authenticity after digital preservation actions, when information on e.g., conversion need to be added, but also to ensure that the relationships to other records, which might be created after the original record has entered the archive (and registered in blockchain), can be maintained. The need to maintain the archival bond for records, which represents "the network of relationships that each record has with the records belonging in the same aggregation" (Duranti, 1997, pp. 215-216), i.e. "the relationship that links each record to the previous and subsequent one and to all those which participate in the same activity" (Duranti, MacNeil, 1996, p. 49), is a prime example of this requirement. The archival bond "changes and develops until the record reaches the point of stability, that is, until the action to which it relates is concluded" but is "stabilized and not subject to further changes" after "the records become inactive" (Duranti, MacNeil, 1996, p. 61). This paper explores realization of the archival bond in the context of blockchain, further developing the data model presented by Lemieux and Sprony (2017), and suggests a solution based on introduction of supporting secure linkages to non-blockchain-relying systems such as those based on SQL or NoSQL databases. Built around a central repository relying on blockchain, such a supporting system can not only enable metadata to be changed as required but also significantly simplify searching compared to searching on-chain information while still keeping the immutability characteristic of blockchain.

References

Bralić, V., Stančić, H., & Stengård, M. (2020). A blockchain approach to digital archiving: digital signature certification chain preservation. Records Management Journal. Ahead of print. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.1108/RMJ-08-2019-0043

Duranti, L. (1997). The archival bond. Archives and Museum Informatics, 11(3-4), 213-218.

Duranti, L., & MacNeil, H. (1996). The protection of the integrity of electronic records: an overview of the UBC-MAS research project. Archivaria, 42.

Lemieux, V. L., & Sporny, M. (April 2017). Preserving the archival bond in distributed ledgers: a data model and syntax. In Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on World Wide Web Companion (pp. 1437-1443).

Title: Exploring On-Chain Solutions for Humanitarian Agencies to Meet the Principle of Purpose Limitation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Authors: Daniel C. Park; Jonathan Dotan
Affiliation: University of British Columbia
Abstract: Catalyzed by growing threats against the security of personal data, the European Union (EU) in 2018 championed establishing data privacy as a fundamental human right through the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Despite being an EU law, many global organizations are expected to be exposed to the new binding regulation, forcing change on their data protection policy to comply with the GDPR. The humanitarian community is not immune to such changes, and aid agencies, particularly those leveraging blockchain technology to register, store and use beneficiary data in big data analytics, are expected to encounter difficulties complying with the GDPR. First, soliciting and acquiring “a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous” consent without “significant negative consequences” as per the GDPR, Recital 32 can be convoluted in humanitarian settings, attributing to vulnerabilities of beneficiaries such as technological illiteracy, inaccessibility, cultural and religious barriers, and distrust to name a few.

Consequently, these limitations on acquiring consent or reconsent if there are changes to terms of agreement virtually prohibits aid agencies from operationalizing big data analytics; and excludes them from merging and repurposing data sets to draw new and valuable patterns, correlations and other insights as per Article 89(1) of the GDPR, which requires that consensually acquired data must not be processed in a manner that is “incompatible with the initial purposes.” In this respect, a permissioned DLT, due to its architectural characteristics that prevent the profiling of big data analytics, satisfies the principle of purpose limitation. It is designed to grant a node to another entity without disclosing any data in itself, but rather, a series of encrypted values. In contrast, a permissionless blockchain would allow sweeping access to any participant that has a node to the data transactions on that particular chain. This then begs the question, while DLT feature substantial characteristics that bolster the security of personal data compared to traditional, centralized databases, which blockchain technology (permissionless versus permissioned) is best tailored for aid agencies to tackle their unique challenge of complying with the GDPR?

Title: Prototyping a Smart Contract based Public Procurement to fight Corruption
Authors: Tim Weingärtner; Danielle Batista; Sandro Koechli; Gilles Voutat
Affiliation: Corruption in public procurement is a worldwide appearance that causes immense financial and reputational damages. Especially in developing countries, corruption is a widespread issue due to [Graycar, A., & Prenzler, T. (2013)]. Corruption is related to secrecy. According to Nishijima et al (2019) investments usually focus on areas wherein it is easier to hide information facilitating corruption. Rothstein & Eek (2006) demonstrated an inverse relationship between corruption and transparency in their research proving that secrecy contributes to frauds especially those involving financial transactions. An important instrument for transparency and accountability assurance is the record. According to the International Council on Archives, a record is “information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business” and a recordkeeping system is defined as “a framework to capture, maintain and provide access to evidence of transactions over time, as required by the jurisdiction in which it is implemented and in accordance with common business practices” such as hardware used to control records. Blockchain technology and more precisely blockchain-based smart contracts are emerging technological tools that can be used as recordkeeping systems and procedure controls to mitigate some of the common fraud in public procurements mostly in regards to financial flow recording. With immutability, transparency, distribution and automation smart contracts already have shown in several application areas that malicious human interference can be avoided with the use of this technology.

In this paper, we discuss the main frauds in public procurement and we propose smart contracts to automatize different stages of the public procurement process attempting to fix the biggest weaknesses of today’s procurement procedures. The processes we have focused on are the bidding process including supplier selection, the supplier habilitation stage and the delivery verification. In the three subprocesses, common irregularities include human fallibility, improper information disclosure and hidden agreements which concern not only governments but also civil society. To show the feasibility and usability of our proposal, we have implemented a prototype that demonstrates the process using sample data. The prototype was also presented to public procurement experts for validation purposes. This paper presents the following structure: Section 1 presents the overall public procurement process and the common frauds associated with it, section 2 presents the related literature and research involving the use of smart contracts on public procurements, section 3 demonstrates the advantages of the use of blockchain and smart contracts, section 4 explains the proposed smart contract enabled procurement process, section 5 describes the design of the three mentioned sub-processes (bidding, supplier habilitation and delivery verification), section 6 explains the prototype implementation, and section 7 presents the conclusion and future work.

*References:*

B. Rothstein and D. Eek, “Political Corruption and Social Trust: An Experimental Approach,” Rationality and Society, no. 1, pp. 3–43, 2006.

Graycar, A., & Prenzler, T. (2013). Understanding and preventing corruption. Springer.

Title: Using Blockchain to ensure the trust between the donor agencies and NGOs of under-developed countries
Authors: Tariq Rahim Soomro; Ehsan Rehman; M. Asghar Khan; Imran; Mohammed A.M. Afifi; Taher M. Ghazal
Affiliation: 1. College of Computer Science and Information System, Institute of Business Management, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan; 2. School of Information Technology Skyline University College, University City Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; 3. Center for Cyber Security, Faculty of Information Science and Technology, Univeriti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Abstract: The Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) of underdeveloped countries are receiving funds from donor agencies for various purposes, including, relief from natural disasters and other emergencies, to promote education, for women empowerment, for economic development, and many more. Some donor agencies have lost their trust on the NGOs of underdeveloped countries, as some NGOs have been involved in misuse of funds. This is evident from irregularities in the records. For instance, in education funds, on some occasions, the same student has appeared in the records of multiple NGOs as a beneficiary, when in fact, a maximum of one NGO could be paying for a particular beneficiary. Therefore, the number of actual beneficiaries would be smaller than the number of claimed beneficiaries.This research proposes a blockchain based solution to ensure trust between donor agencies from all over the world, and NGOs of underdeveloped countries. The list of National IDs along with other keys, would be available publicly on a blockchain. The distributed software would ensure that the same set of keys are not entered twice in this blockchain, preventing the problem highlighted above. The details of the fund provided to the student would also be available on blockchain, and would be encrypted and digitally signed by the NGOs. In the case that a record inserted into this blockchain is discovered to be fake, this research provides a way to cancel that record. A cancellation record is inserted, only if it is digitally signed by the relevant funding agency.

Title: The Research & Development Case of the Blockchain Recordkeeping at the National Archives of Korea
Authors: Hosung Wang, Dongmin Yang
Affiliation: Digital Records Innovation department, the National Archives of Korea, Korea; Jeonbuk National University, Korea
Abstract: In 2019, the National Archives of Korea (NAK) developed a blockchain recrodkeeping platform with a budget of 1 blillion korea won from the government of the Rep. of Korea. NAK has been using this platform to conduct research and development that can be applied to recordkeeping practices. This paper introduces two representative R&D cases that have been conducted so far. The first case is the use of blockchain transaction audit trail technology to ensure the authenticity of audiovisual archives. The second is a case study that Uses blockchain technology to technically verify whether the datasets of numerous administrative information systems built by government agencies are managed without forgery and tampering. It is a common phenomenon around the world that the government's work environment is rapidly shifting from paper records to digital ones. However, the traditional recordkeeping methodlogy that most archives perform does not adequately keep up with this digital changes. Despite the importance of responding to digital changes by incorporating innovative technologies such as blockchain in recordkeeping practices, it is not easy for most archives to invest funds to experiment with future technologies. Thanks to the Korean government's policy of investing in digital transformation, NAK's blockchain recordkeeping platform has been developed and several R&D tasks are underway. It is hoped that the findings will be shared with Archivists around the world who are agonizing over the future of  recordkeeping.

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