Brazil Records First-Ever Blockchain Birth Certificate

Brazil Records First-Ever Blockchain Birth Certificate

Blockchains are normally associated with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoins, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and many others. However, blockchains and cryptocurrencies are really two separate topics. The first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, adopted blockchain technology for recording transactions simply because of the reliability of blockchains. A blockchain is a distributed ledger that appears to be hacker-proof.

Once a record is recorded in a blockchain, it can never be altered or deleted. Most blockchains have multiple copies available online and each copy serves as a backup copy to all the other copies, making it (probably) impossible for hackers to delete all of them simultaneously. Most blockchains are also visible to everyone over the internet although there are a few exceptions.

Blockchains are now being used to record all sorts of important transactions and events, including financial transactions, real estate sales, and legal transactions. They have also moved into other important functions, such as tracking the purity of drugs during manufacture, tracking the origins of all sorts of food items, and creating digital identities of human beings. Even Walmart has been working with IBM on a food safety blockchain solution and requires all suppliers of leafy green vegetables destined for Sam’s and Walmart to immediately upload their data to the blockchain during each step of the delivery process. Some people believe that blockchains will soon be used to identify which voters are eligible to vote in public elections, thereby reducing or possibly eliminating election fraud.

For more information about the advantages of blockchains, see Why Use Blockchain Technology? at https://bitcoinist.com/why-use-blockchain-technology/.

It is interesting to note that blockchains are being adopted for proving the identity of individuals. Blockchains already are used to record the names, places, and dates of weddings and now are being used to record the facts of the births of babies. Assuming this trend continues, future genealogists will not need to obtain records from governmental vital records agencies. Instead, genealogists will simply check the applicable blockchain.

NOTE: Blockchains probably will always be difficult or impossible to use for verifying vital records of events that occurred before the adoption of blockchain technology. However, blockchains can be used to provide proof of events and identities that occur today and forever into the future.

Brazil, the fifth most populated country in the world, has made history by issuing its first birth certificate using blockchain technology, a significant step towards recording vital public statistics.

According to a report (in Portuguese) at https://br.cointelegraph.com/news/brazil-birth-certificate-and-blockchain, Álvaro de Medeiros was the first baby to have his birth certificate issued without the need of any notary or registry office. GrowTech, a company which strives towards a high-end tech world, in partnership with IBM, has used blockchain technology to record birth certificates by using its Notary ledger platform to provide virtual notary services.

IBM’s blockchain leader in Latin America, Carlos Rischioto, said that the registration process involves three main steps. First, the hospital is required to make a “live birth statement.” After this, the Ledger platform of the blockchain technology is used to create a digital identity of the newborn. In the last step, the essential and relevant information is sent to the notary to finalize it. The entire process required about 5 minutes, in contrast to the several days required to manually register a birth at the normal registry offices.

You can read an English-language report of this blockchain registration of a birth at https://bitcoinnews.com/brazil-records-its-first-ever-blockchain-based-birth-certificate/.

I can envision future recording of family tree information with footnote sources referring to the blockchain record number of the event, listing the date, the location, and the identity of the persons involved!

5 Comments

This is very exciting Dick. Do you know how to access the blockchains with weddings and the states that adopted this technology?

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Isn’t it logical to think that existing data, such as that in archives everywhere, could be stored in blockchains?

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    —> Isn’t it logical to think that existing data, such as that in archives everywhere, could be stored in blockchains?

    Yes, but… Who is going to determine that the data is accurate?

    We already have that problem today. We already have thousands of published claims of births, marriages, deaths, and other so-called “facts” published in books and online that turn out to be bogus. See my earlier article, “Are You Recording Fairy Tales in Your Genealogy Records?,” at https://blog.eogn.com/2019/02/06/are-you-recording-fairy-tales-in-your-genealogy-records/ for my opinions about published “facts.”

    One of the basic design considerations of blockchains is to insure accuracy. That is easily done when modern events are being recorded by either automated computer processes or by humans who have personal knowledge of the facts and record them in blockchains within seconds or minutes after the event. For instance, the most popular use of blockchains right now is recording financial transactions of cryptocurrencies. Those transactions are always recorded automatically by computers within a few milliseconds when a transaction is made. The chances of errors are minuscule.

    How can we insure accuracy of birth records or other facts that occurred many, many years ago?

    To argue with myself, I suppose it is possible to create a blockchain that contains CLAIMS of facts as long as it is clearly labeled that these are claims, not proven facts. However, it strikes me that we already have thousands of such claims and simply recording them in a blockchain doesn’t increase the accuracy at all.

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If they can’t be changed, what happens in the future with people like me, whose parents changed the spelling of their name before I started kindergarten? Would I end up having two (or three different birth certificates, as I do now?) I now have: 1. Original, issued by the county; 2. Corrected, issued by the county with the spelling change, when I was age four. 3 Corrected copy the county sent to the state. Only #3 was valid for obtaining a passport (at age 60+), while I had used #2 for everything else my entire life. Since #2 wasn’t issued within a year of birth, it wasn’t valid for getting a passport. #3 kept the original issue date of #1, and had the spelling change of #2. It is also interesting that #3 doesn’t have all the details of #2, in parent’s exact birth locations (not just state), occupations of parents, number of children born to the mother, number of children living.

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david paul davenport September 19, 2019 at 2:12 pm

I am blissfully ignorant of “block chain” technology, even after reading the definition of it – “distributed ledger technology” makes no sense to me and I have a Ph.D. The purpose of language is achieve understanding by using sounds and symbols of those sounds in a manner understood by the masses of people who are literate in the same language. This Block Chain stuff reminds me of the scene in the movie “Airplane!” in which Barbara Billingsley plays a white woman is able to speak “Jive” to two fellow passengers who happen to be Black. If we are now “expected” to improve the way we record births (for example) take a picture of the event with a digital camera that has been set up correctly so that the “properties” of the photo are embedded in the photo with the date, time, and GPS coordinates of the event.

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