In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.
Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) are innovative technologies that have many uses and applications across multiple sectors of the economy. From the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) perspective, the technologies hold the potential for enhanced transparency and auditing of public service operations, greater supply chain visibility to combat the distribution of counterfeit products, and automation of paper-based processes to improve delivery of services to organizations and citizens. Examples include ensuring the authenticity and integrity of videos and photos from cameras, sensors, and Internet of Things devices; enhancing and facilitating international trade and customs processes; facilitating and securing passenger processing; and mitigating forgery and counterfeiting of official licenses and certificates.
The challenge with blockchain technology is the potential for the development of “walled gardens” or closed technology platforms that do not support common standards for security, privacy, and data exchange. This would limit the growth and availability of a competitive marketplace of diverse, interoperable solutions for government and industry to draw upon to deliver cost effective and innovative services based on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. As such, DHS work in Blockchain and DLT is focused on enabling support for an interoperable baseline of security and privacy across implementations by the use of open and global standards.
DHS Application of Blockchain and DLT
DHS identified numerous use cases that could be enabled by interoperable blockchain and DLT solutions, including:
- Digitally issuing currently paper-based credentials to enhance security, ensure interoperability, and prevent forgery and counterfeiting
- Creating immutable records and audit logs of data that cannot be spoofed, and can be publicly verified without revealing personally identifiable information
- Supply chain traceability of steel, oil, natural gas, food and direct to consumer e-commerce shipments across international boundaries
- Expediting passenger screening at airports by streamlining security processes
- Privacy respecting essential work and task licenses for workers and individuals conducting essentials tasks to assert their respective eligibility.
DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), has led the Department’s effort in experimenting with blockchain and DLT solutions with emphasis on architecture, standards and interoperability to bring a level of rigor, expertise and credibility that is unique in supporting DHS Components and other partners across the U.S. government, so that homeland security applications of blockchain and DLT are effective and trusted.
SVIP Blockchain Portfolio: Preventing Forgery and Counterfeiting of Certificates and Licenses
In December 2018, DHS S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) released the initial Preventing Forgery and Counterfeiting of Certificates and Licenses topic call—with a follow-on release in June 2020. Both releases required portfolio companies/performers to work together as a cohort to ensure interoperability.
Through blockchain and DLT solutions, DHS seeks to address the challenges of interoperable digital entitlement attestations that support individual control and accountability of data release. Additionally, DHS looks to incorporate digital counter-fraud technologies and tactics, develop enterprise lifecycle management, and ensure a high degree of usability across service delivery modalities.
DHS operational components and programs identified common needs across their mission sets for potential use of interoperable implementations of Blockchain and DLT solutions that also support the growth and availability of a competitive marketplace of diverse technology implementations for government and industry to draw upon to deliver cost effective and innovative solutions.
The two releases sought technical capabilities to serve the mission needs of DHS Operational Components and programs including:
- DHS Privacy Office (PRIV)
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- Issuance and Verification of Certificates, Licenses and Attestations
- Storage and Management of Certificates, Licenses and Attestations
- Decentralized and Derived PIV Credentials
Illustrative Use Cases and Relevant DHS Component or Program
Release 1 – Solicitation Issued in December 2018; Phase 1 awards made in November 2019
- Identity Documents for Travel (TSA)
- Identity of Organizations and Organizational Delegates (CBP)
- Tribal identity Documents for Travel (TSA & USCIS)
- Citizenship, Immigration and Employment Authorization (USCIS)
- Cross-Border Oil Import Tracking (CBP)
- Origin of Raw Material Imports (CBP)
Release 2 – Solicitation issued in June 2020; Phase 1 awards made in September 2020
- Alternative Identifier to the Social Security Number (PRIV)
- Food Supply Chain Safety and Visibility (CBP)
- Supply Chain Traceability of Natural Gas Imports (CBP)
- Supply Chain Traceability of Direct-to-Consumer E-Commerce Shipments (CBP)
- Privacy Respecting Essential Work and/or Task License (USCIS)
Blockchain Cohort Start-up Companies
The following lists blockchain performers along with the DHS Component(s) it supports, the current SVIP funding phase, and the project focus.
USCIS – Phase 2: Citizenship, Immigration & Employment Authorization
Danube Tech will integrate interoperability support for multiple credential data formats, blockchains, and standardized and open application programming interfaces into their existing decentralized identifier (DID) registrar and DID resolver products for credential issuance and identity verification.
USCIS – Phase 2: Citizenship, Immigration & Employment Authorization
Digital Bazaar will enhance their existing product offerings with enterprise workforce and credential lifecycle management features to build a viable credentialing product for large organizations.
USCIS – Phase 1: Privacy Respecting Essential Work and/or Task License
MATTR will adapt and enhance their platform by supporting privacy respecting, ledger independent selective disclosure of information and integration with existing federated identity protocols to provide a complete solution.
CBP – Phase 1:Food Supply Chain Safety and Visibility
Mesur.io will adapt Earthstream, its core technology platform, to ensure that DHS Customs and Border Protection has visibility into food supply chains from farm to point of purchase.
CBP – Phase 1: Supply Chain Traceability of Direct-to-Consumer E-Commerce Shipments
Spherity will adapt their core digital-twin binding technology to provide a capability to connect all parties in a transaction to provide package traceability from the internet purchase to the consumer.