Blockchain technology was raised as a potential solution to addressing data privacy concerns in Washington, DC at an Internet policy conference where top policymakers such as commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission, as well as various lawmakers, were speaking. 

Monday’s ongoing The State of the Net 2024 conference is largely slated to address pressing issues like AI and data privacy, both of which are expected to be significant areas for Congress this year. 

But in his keynote speech Monday morning, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who is the co-chair of the AI caucus in Congress, raised blockchain technology as a possible way to protect data privacy even as the technology has fallen out of the spotlight in Washington since the collapse of FTX.

In town hall meetings and public venues, people are concerned about who’s collecting their data, who’s selling their data, and how data is being gathered, whether that be by China or by the United States’ own intelligence community, according to Beyer. 

Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) “has been pushing hard for a national digital signature that is unique and unbreakable, as a way of the first step towards protecting your own individual privacy and perhaps linking it with blockchain so that we own it [and can] get paid for it,” said Beyer at the conference. 

Foster’s interest in blockchain is well documented, and he has been pursuing ways that the technology can be used to prevent fraud and protect privacy, among other areas. 

Beyer was “intrigued by the idea” of connecting a national digital signature to a blockchain, according to a source familiar with the Congressman’s thinking, even though he and Foster have yet to co-sponsor legislation on the issue together. 

Beyer’s role as co-chair of the AI caucus has placed him in a central role in Congressional conversations about the technology. His interest in technology also extends to blockchain and its potential uses, particularly when it comes to the ideas Foster proposed.