April 22, 2024

White House Identifies Digital Assets and DLT as Critical and Emerging Technologies in National Security Paper

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The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has highlighted digital assets and distributed ledger technology (DLT) among the critical and emerging technologies (CET) crucial for national security in a recent publication. The paper, outlining the top 18 categories of critical technologies, positions DLT and digital assets under the umbrella of “Data Privacy, Data Security, and Cybersecurity Technologies.”

While artificial intelligence (AI) predictably made it into the list, digital assets and DLT were categorized within the broader context of technologies associated with data privacy, security, and cybersecurity. This classification also encompasses digital payment technologies and digital identity, emphasizing the interconnected nature of these advancements.

OSTP Deputy Director for National Security, Stephen Welby, expressed the importance of the publication, stating, “It will also be a useful resource as we continue to engage allies and partners to ensure that CETs yield tangible benefits for society and are aligned with our democratic values.”

The last time OSTP published a similar list was two years ago, categorizing digital assets, DLT, and related technologies under the label of ‘financial technologies.’ In the recent classification, these technologies have shifted to a broader category reflecting their multifaceted roles in data management, privacy, and security.

The White House acknowledged the transformative potential of critical and emerging technologies in shaping economies, military capabilities, and the global landscape over the next decade. The statement underlined the commitment of the United States to a future where these technologies enhance security, prosperity, and democratic values for the American people and like-minded democracies.

It is worth noting that while the OSTP recognizes the significance of digital assets and DLT, another arm of the White House, the Council of Economic Advisers, has expressed reservations. In a report last year, the council criticized blockchain technology, including distributed ledgers, deeming them as not particularly novel or useful according to some technologists.

This recent acknowledgment by the OSTP further underscores the evolving perception and recognition of digital assets and DLT within the U.S. government. The OSTP has previously delved into related topics, providing clarity on design options for a digital dollar central bank digital currency (CBDC) in 2022.

As the landscape of technology and finance continues to evolve, the position of these technologies on the national security agenda emphasizes their growing importance and impact on various aspects of society.

View the paper here

Digital Assets Desk

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