From a National Archives Blog Post:
The National Archives [UK], the University of Surrey and the UK Open Data Institute are trying to answer several big questions:
- How can we demonstrate that the record you see today is the same record that was entrusted to the archive 20 years previously?
- How do we prove that the only changes made to it were legitimate and have not affected the content?
- How do we ensure that citizens continue to see archives as trusted custodians of the digital public record?
To address these questions, ARCHANGEL [name of research project] is exploring how we can know that a digital record has been modified and whether the change was legitimate so that ultimately it can still be trusted as the authentic record. Specifically, the project is investigating how blockchain might be used to achieve this.
The ARCHANGEL project is creating a prototype using this technology which aims to enable archives to generate and register hashes of documents (similar to unique digital signatures) into a permissioned blockchain (in other words, one which can only be added to by authorised organisations).
Our approach will result in the creation of many copies of a persistent and unchangeable record of the state of a document. This record will be verifiable using the same cryptographic algorithms, many years into the future.