James Clapper: Blockchain has great potential for ‘disaggregated’ transactions

James Clapper: Blockchain has great potential for ‘disaggregated’ transactions

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CoinGeek’s Stephanie Tower spoke with Lt. Gen. (Ret) James Clapper on how governments can harness blockchain technology.

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Lt. Gen. (Ret) James Clapper, former director of national intelligence for the U.S. government, participated in the recent Block Seoul conference in South Korea, which he found appealing for personal reasons as well. “Anytime I get an excuse to come back to Republic of Korea, I’ll jump at it, because I was stationed here in the military in the mid-80s for two years, and it was one of the best assignments I had in the Air Force, and my family had a wonderful time. And of course, like a lot of people, I’m concerned about cybersecurity and the potential for blockchain and related technologies to enhance cybersecurity,” he said.

Even with changing technologies, each person or group should approach the matter of security the same cautious way, according to Clapper. “[I]f you’re connected to the internet, no matter how, you’re vulnerable, and you may as well just accept that fact and do all the classical things that you can do, and even then assume you’re going to get attacked. And the big thing is how to respond to an attack, and the extent to which you are resilient, and this applies to a nation-state, an institution, a company, or an individual,” he said.

Clapper also finds blockchain technology interesting due to its applicability to a wide number of fields. “[Blockchain] has great potential for anything that involves transactions that are disaggregated, so medical, to financial, and [the] defense arena, it has great potential.”

He pointed out that so far, the government has not had much use of the technology for its operations. “We don’t use it very much,” Clapper said, explaining that “the government is always a little behind industry and technology. There are potentially great applications, not so much from an intelligence exploitation standpoint, as much as protecting information.”

Clapper warned that the U.S. government should be seriously exploring the use of blockchain. Implementation of blockchain-powered systems, he said, “better progress, because both the Chinese and the Russians are very aggressively pursuing blockchain applications.”

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