European Economic and Social Committee: We Must Not Let Blockchain Create a “New Digital Economy Elite”

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The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has put out a new report both praising distributed ledger technology and also worrying about its unintended consequences. The leading EU advisory board seems to be in agreement that cryptocurrencies will have an unprecedented impact in all aspects of social life.

The EESC has put out a major report on cryptocurrencies, reaffirming its importance while also being cautious in how to best proceed.

A ‘Paradigm Shift’ Which Demands Caution

As EESC member Giuseppe Guerini told reporters, the paradigm-shift with blockchain technology cannot be understated. “We can draw parallels with the invention of the printing press,” he said. At first “people had equated the printing press with the means capable of printing only Bibles,” but we now see how the “printing technology revolutionized life in Europe.” This is the potential blockchain technology has, Guerini argues.

However, given how strong the expected impact of this technology will be, the EESC cautions against ignoring the many unintended consequences. As with any paradigm-shifting technology, there is always the potential for civil strife. One of the main issues lies with this technology is it becoming centralized in the hands of a few players, or being exploited by major conglomerates at the expense of the population at large.

“We don’t want to see a digital divide that creates more inequality and injustice. We don’t want to see a new elite emerging, of people who are familiar with the new technologies and end up excluding others from the economy and the market,” the report reads.

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Assessing Blockchain’s Impact

The EESC has drawn up a list of potential areas where blockchain’s impact will be most felt.

  • Transparent fundraising for NGOs and other international organizations. This will ensure money is spent on what’s intended.
  • Improving governance by making voting and participation more secure, from the local level all the way to federal elections.
  • Authentication to prove identities and collaborations between different associations, organizations, and cooperatives.
  • Validate certificates to prevent forgeries, be it in education or any other trade.
  • Intellectual property rights will be easier to manage on a distributed ledger system, allowing for digital content to be easily transferrable.
  • Improve healthcare with secure patient information, e-care systems, and other automated functions which can cut back on bureaucracy thus allowing patients to receive care faster.
  • Tracking agricultural products is a major use-case for blockchain technology, allowing the supply-side of our global economy to be more accounted for.

The list goes on, and it’s clear that the EESC sees unprecedented potential in blockchain technology. The EESC thus demands, in conclusion to its report, that the European Union take coordinated action to best implement DLT technology irrespective of national borders.

Do you agree with the EESC that blockchain technology could have as much impact as the printing press did centuries ago? Let us know your thoughts below.


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