National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Conducts Bitcoin Blockchain Fork Tests

    US NIST Eyes Permissioned Blockchains, Conducts Tests Using Own Bitcoin Fork

    A recent CCN post disclosed that the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) along with other governmental players hold a keen interest in the notion of permissioned blockchains (i.e. what Ripple is based on), networks that permit the appointment of certain group of individuals who are given the necessary power to validate transaction blocks.

    The supposed interest sparked from a piece written by NIST’s Peter Mell called, “Managed Blockchain-based Cryptocurrencies with Consensus Enforced Rules and Transparency.” The abstract section of the paper looks at a “hybrid approach where a managed cryptocurrency is maintained through distributed consensus-based methods,” adding that it will look at:

    “How to implement our approach through modest modifications to the implicit Bitcoin specification, however, our approach can be applied to most any blockchain-based cryptocurrency using a variety of consensus methods.”

    CCN views this claim as implying that the government can use said technology to create its own cryptocurrency. It was also pointed out that the government might have interest in Bitcoin primarily for its transparency and security when it comes to the overall protection of said funds.

    A feature that makes this approach attractive is supposedly its architecture as it permits distribution of levels of power across “law enforcement, central banking and account management,” as well as settings that enforce confidence as certain aspects can be set to be permanent.

    So, what has NIST come up with? It seems like their version of the Bitcoin system includes a bit that includes “Roles” in bitcoin transactions, reports CCN. Simply put, this has been done to ensure that the “currency administrator” has complete control. Here’s an extract of the paper that expands on this notion of “administrator”:

    “The vin can be used to bring roles into a transaction to authorize activities that require roles. Functionally, it is like we are “spending” a role to use it to authorize some action given the usual use of a vin field.”

    NIST Gets Hands on With Bitcoin Fork

    Clearly, NIST has been positively impacted by Mell’s paper to the point where the former has since looked into its own Bitcoin fork, which is primarily due to their interest in making the paper’s suggestions come to life. For the time being, the tests are said to be done on a governmental level, with a possible government-backed cryptocurrency. However, this is far from happening, as several tests need to be done to ensure permanent, secure and a private system.

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