What to Expect When Congress Talks Blockchain Tuesday

Tuesday's blockchain hearing will specifically look at the technology's applications in supply chain management.

AccessTimeIconMay 7, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:55 a.m. UTC

A pair of Congressional subcommittees will continue their fact-finding mission on blockchain during a hearing tomorrow.

Tomorrow's session will be more narrowly focused compared to a similar hearing held by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Research and Technology and Oversight Subcommittees in February.

While that event cast a broad net – covering blockchain applications beyond the realm of cryptocurrencies – the one on Tuesday will hone in on the tech's use in supply chain management.

A representative for Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Science Committee, told CoinDesk that the hearing will host "experts in intellectual property, cybersecurity, as well as shipping and logistics."

These include Douglas Maughan, who serves as the cybersecurity division director for the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate; NUBY Law PR counsel Robert Chiaviello; Michael White, who serves as head of global trade digitization for Maersk; and Christopher Rubio, the vice president of global customs brokerage staff for UPS.

It's this group, press secretary Brandon VerVelde says, that will help steer the committee's thinking on blockchain's use in this area.

"The committee has an interest in supply chain risk management (SCRM) through our jurisdiction over the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, which has worked extensively on SCRM," VerVelde said, adding:

"This hearing is intended for information-gathering for the committee members. We look forward to learning a lot from the witnesses."

Indeed, those hoping for the kinds of fireworks seen in February when the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) hearing before the Senate Banking Committee – or during a House hearing on initial coin offerings in March – will likely be disappointed, given its info-gathering nature.

What lawmakers are saying

Rep. Roger Marshall, in a statement to CoinDesk, referred back to the Science Committee's past work and framed tomorrow's gathering as a continuation of that process.

"This hearing will build upon the previous one, which explored the science behind blockchain technology. I know the intent of the hearing is to be informative but look forward to seeing where the discussion will go and the questions my colleagues ask," he said.

According to Illinois Representative Randy Hultgren, the conversation will focus in part on how the tech can solve issues around intellectual property theft – a potential hot-button issue considering the Trump administration's recent statements on IP theft by the Chinese government.

“This hearing will help examine how new technologies are improving the ways in which consumers can be better informed about where their products are coming from, how companies can validate a secure, ethical supply chain and how U.S. intellectual property can be better defended against unlawful practices," Hultgren said in a statement.

That push for transparency – particularly on the front of counterfeit goods – is highlighted in the hearing charter published ahead of the event.

"The hearing will focus on how this technology can be leveraged to provide greater supply chain visibility and combat the distribution of counterfeit products," the document states.

Congress image via Shutterstock


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