Washington, DC — The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the agency tasked with preserving the U.S. government’s colossal archive of historical records, wants to use more blockchain.

Of immediate interest to NARA, verifying tamper-free versions of documents to guard against deep-fake videos, which are created by machine-learning algorithms that can manipulate images and audio to make it appear as though public officials have said or did something they did not.

“Alternative information has become a challenge to how the public consumes information,” said Eric “Kyle” Douglas, a records management policy and program support specialist for NARA’s chief records office.

NARA already tested blockchain last year in a pilot project, when it released nearly 20,000 government documents on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Each of the bulk downloads included a “hash” in the metadata that allows users to validate that the digital material had not been altered.

“Extending this practice to all digital NARA holdings will allow the public to independently verify that digital content taken from NARA’s catalog has not been altered,” he said.

However, Douglas noted the agency has resource limitations and would have to retrain the existing unionized records management workforce.

NARA oversees approximately 10 billion pages of textual records; 12 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 25 million still photographs and graphics; 24 million aerial photographs; 300,000 reels of motion picture film; 400,000 video and sound recordings; and 133 terabytes of electronic data.
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