Bitcoin.com spoke with Blocksafe CEO Kevin Barnes, whose startup brings blockchain and P2P networking to smart gun technology. This solution has the potential to eliminate unauthorized gun access, track missing firearms, and more importantly, reduce overall violence.
Blockchain Meets ‘Smart Gun’ Technology
Kevin Barnes is a military veteran and blockchain developer who saw a problem in nascent “smart gun” technology.
Specifically, this is the disconcerting possibility that government could eventually monitor and control guns remotely. Instead, he hopes to provide an opt-in alternative that would enable gun owners to choose whether they want to make their firearms “smart,” automatically blocking access to unauthorized users.
For example, Blocksafe could be used by police to manage, locate, control, and view activities of their officers’ firearms in real time, 24 hours a day. Firing range instructors could use it to train in safer environments, analyzing shooting patterns and tracking inventory. Any gun owner could use Blocksafe to locate stolen guns, access a real-time count of how many rounds are left in a magazine, and protect themselves from being overpowered.
This solution has received strong interest from blockchain and gun industry leaders, according to Blocksafe, and is currently embarking on a crowdsale to raise a goal of $55,000 USD to build the first phase of this technology.
Interview with Kevin Barnes
Bitcoin.com (BC): What is Blocksafe and what type of blockchain does it use?
Kevin Barnes (KB): Blocksafe is a p2p network that provides the infrastructure for smart devices for firearms. Blocksafe uses lisk + bittorrent + telehash.
BC: Why not the Bitcoin blockchain?
KB: The [Bitcoin] blockchain is not built to be the foundation of an IOT decentralized solution. We are choosing a foundation that we feel has the features and focus needed as a foundation for an IOT network.
BC: Can you give an example of how this can be used for a gun smartlock?
KB: When setting up a smart device initially, Bluetooth authentication is setup via the Blocksafe app by the owner and all authorized users are added by the device owner and stored on the local ledger. Authentication method varies upon the device and manufacturer.
Let’s say your smart magazine has one round left and has an authentication feature that enabled rounds to be fed to the chamber. The round count and authentication attempt parameters are stored in real time along with other data that the device owner chooses to be recorded such as date, time, and location using encryption onto the local ledger of the device.
So if the authentication is successful, the magazine would allow the last round to be chambered for the user to discharge the weapon. The authentication attempt and all related activities that the device owner chooses to have recorded are stored on the local ledger.
We must have infrastructure in place dedicated for successful implementation of smart gun technology.
When the device has internet access the ledger is synced to the network and the device owner receives notifications such as push, sms, or email as configured by the owner’s chosen device settings. The data is encrypted via a data key on the network. So, only those who have the data kept from the device owner will be able to view the actual device activity.
BC: Would this system store personal information or would it be pseudonymous and used for messaging, data storage only?
KB: Just pseudonymous and used for messaging, data storage only. This information is encrypted and only available for viewing by those who have the device data key.
BC: Guns are 15 times more likely to be used against a gun owner or accidentally discharged (often by children) than used in self-defense. Would Blocksafe eliminate this risk and would you support making this type of system mandatory for all gun owners?
KB: Yes, the Blocksafe network would greatly reduce those risks, though I do not support making the usage of the network or smart device mandatory. We feel that gun owners globally should be able to keep the liberty to use their firearm as they wish and should not be mandated to use a product or service.
BC: Regulations are being fiercely debated in America following the Orlando shooting. Do you see “smart gun” technology as a potential solution?
KB: Yes, we see smart gun technology as part of a combined solution. I see an infrastructure to support smart gun technology as the first step to reducing the need of regulations in various areas in the world. We have phone lines in place to create the phone system, faxes, and dial-up internet. We also have towers as an infrastructure for cellular phones. We must have infrastructure in place dedicated for successful implementation of smart gun technology.
BC: What other smart gun technologies are emerging today? What makes your blockchain solution better?
KB: Most technologies we have seen have no real infrastructure behind it keeping them limited in some ways and higher risk in others. Higher rate of hacking or electrical interference is a major issue.
“Smart gun devices are going to be a huge market as gun owners realize they have the liberty to make choices to anonymously make their firearms smart when they want them to be.”
A blockchain network will enable data to be stored and transmitted securely without any centralized risk, downtime, and provide complete privacy. We believe that creating a network for smart devices and firearm manufacturers is an essential first step to provide the infrastructure for these other hardware technologies to improve their product and service to gun owners.
Smart gun devices are going to be a huge market as gun owners realize they have the liberty to make choices to anonymously make their firearms smart when they want them to be. Phones went through a similar evolution as they became smarter. We did not see mandates to use cell phones. Free market and liberty gave customers choices and that is what this is about.
BC: What kind of feedback have you received from gun industry leaders, legislators etc.?
KB: We have received great interest in the network once it is understood. Like anything new, understanding it is the biggest hurdle.
[Blocksafe is] an alternative [against] a centralized, hackable network mandated […] used as a Trojan horse to compromise our human right of defense.
Many fear governments around the globe are itching for smart gun technologies to take over our means of self defense. In essence that is why we are building this network: to create an alternative as quickly as possible to not only enjoy our liberty to use smart gun technology for its huge benefits, but also keep from having a centralized, hackable network mandated and used as a Trojan horse to compromise our human right of defense, while reducing gang violence and saving lives.
BC: Wouldn’t law enforcement seek to gain access to this database as we’ve seen with Apple?
KB: Being that data transmitted and stored is encrypted via a data key, law enforcement would need owner consent to view encrypted data. No personal information is requested, needed or stored by the network. The data key is multilayer encrypted including a quantum encrypted wrapper on phone and device ledgers, so it will not be easy to gain access to the device’s activities. The device records only information the owner chooses. Since devices can be moved from one firearm to another, it only makes sense for the network to record device activities and that is it.
Now, if a gun manufacturer develops a firearm with built-in Blocksafe support, then the purchasing gun owner will be in control of what information is recorded to the ledger. It is up to the owner to abide by any laws that may arise in the future in their jurisdiction relating to mandatory data inclusion.