California Moves Forward to Allow Vital Records to be Issued on Blockchain

Alberto E. Rodriguez

Californians will have the option of a blockchain-based delivery of their vital records after a new law was approved establishing the technology as an integral part of state recordkeeping.

The state has been wrestling with a number of cryptocurrency proposals, and though Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a crypto licensing and regulation bill this week – seen as a possible West Coast version of New York's BitLicense – he approved another on Wednesday that instructs county records offices to allow for the use of blockchain technology and verifiable credentials. The technology would be established in the distribution of birth, death and marriage records, allowing PDFs to be sent immediately rather than using a typical 10-day postal delivery.

The bill, introduced by California state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, represents a test of blockchain in an essential governmental function in the most populous U.S. state.

“This secure and highly convenient process will allow the average person to access their vital records and shows California is still leading the way for innovation,” Hertzberg said in a statement to CoinDesk on Thursday.

When arguing the merits of the bill to the Senate last month, Hertzberg said this is “not only a faster, cheaper, and more efficient delivery method, saving Californians both time and money, but it is also much more secure as blockchain is nearly impossible to hack.”

Also, this week in the U.S. Senate a bill to set up a governmental task force on digital identity cleared the Senate Homeland Security committee. The legislation – also reflected by a similar effort in the House – is meant to advance work at the federal and state levels toward setting up interoperable, government-approved digital identities. The Bank Policy Institute said the effort “would improve security and enhance customer convenience.”