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Protecting your privacy: State may start using blockchain technology

Get ready to hear more about the wonders of blockchain technology as Ohio’s business and political leaders push it as a tool to improve cyber security as well as efficiency in government and business.

State legislative, business and university leaders held a press conference Thursday to explain blockchain and its potential in Ohio.

Blockchain uses math to allow computers to talk to one another, protect data and let people interact with the system, said Evin McMullen of Consensys, a founding member of the world’s largest blockchain industry group.

Related: Kasich signs blockchain bill into law

Rather than information being held in a “sweet honeypots of data” that are prime targets for hacks, blockchains distribute data in a decentralized system and give authorized users access to see and control it, she said. Every time data is changed, it is recorded so users can see who modified what and when.

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McMullen said using blockchain, she can verify that she made all her car payments or that her medical records are accurate.

It was originally designed for crypto-currency Bitcoin.

The technology is expected to be particularly useful in healthcare, auto manufacturing, insurance, supply chain management, defense, government and other industries.

Jim Korcykoski, chief technology and information security officer for Columbus-based Nationwide Insurance, said businesses and government are hashing out how and where to use blockchain and how it should be governed. Ohio is among about a dozen states that are exploring how to best use it, he said.

Ohio House Speaker Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, said he wants interested parties from business, universities and state government to hold meetings on how Ohio can best capitalize on it. For state government, it may mean easier access to data collected and held such as birth and death records, he said.

Ohio State University Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Chairman Hesham El Gamal said blockchain technology is one of three revolutionary technologies that he expects will change the world.

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