Cybersecurity/Trust | Policy/ Regulatory Reform
October 23, 2017

Distributed Ledger Technology: ITU Focus Group to propose standards roadmap

By ITU News

A new ITU Focus Group will identify compelling use cases of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to propose standardization directions capable of supporting these use cases in achieving global scale.

Contributions to the first meeting of the Focus Group in Geneva, 17-19 October 2017, highlighted data access control, security and identity management as high-priority use cases of horizontal relevance. The vertical, industry-specific environments of most interest to the meeting included telecoms, fintech, energy and supply chain management.

The first meeting established four working groups:

  • State of the art: ecosystem, terminology & definitions, concepts
  • Applications & services
  • Technology reference framework
  • Policy reference framework

A fifth working group will operate alongside other groups to consolidate their work and deliver a standards roadmap to support the adoption of DLT-based applications and services.

“We are inviting contributions on state-of-the-art applications and services built on distributed ledger technology,” says Focus Group Chairman, David Watrin, Swisscom. “We are investigating compelling use cases, as well as their surrounding technical and policy environment, to understand where international standardization could build the confidence necessary to stimulate investment in such use cases.”

Working group objectives

WG ‘State of the art’ will document the composition of the DLT ecosystem. It will describe foundational concepts and related technologies, highlighting relevant terms and definitions, to identify elements of the DLT ecosystem to benefit from standardization.

WG ‘Applications & services’ will analyze use cases of DLT to understand the DLT features required by each use case. Where DLT brings competitive advantage to a particular use case, the group will propose standardization directions capable of supporting that use case.

WG ‘Technology reference framework’ will study DLT architecture and interoperability. The group will develop criteria and methods to assess DLT platforms, with the goal of abstracting a high-level technology reference framework – a mapping of existing DLT platforms to an underlying architectural framework.

WG ‘Policy reference framework’ will describe the policy and regulatory dimensions of DLT and associated constraints for the adoption of DLT-based applications. This study will cover governance, auditability, traceability and privacy aspects of DLT, as well as compliance with legal frameworks such as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation. The targeted policy reference framework will map existing DLT platforms to policy and regulatory considerations. 

Contribute to ITU work on DLT

Focus Groups are open to participation by all interested parties.

These groups accelerate ITU studies in fields of growing strategic relevance to the ITU membership. Focus Groups collect input from as many interests as possible. Their aim is to deliver base documents to stimulate international standardization work in membership-driven ITU-T Study Groups.

Distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain are fast moving into the ITU standardization work programme. The topic is under study in ITU-T Study Groups 13 (Future networks), 16 (Multimedia), 17 (Security) and 20 (Internet of Things and smart cities).

ITU-T Study Group 17 in particular has demonstrated strong commitment to the study of security aspects of DLT, establishing a new work stream (Question 14/17) to coordinate work on seven work-in-progress draft ITU standards on DLT security.

The Focus Group will work in close cooperation with ITU-T Study Groups as well as other bodies investigating DLT standardization demands, such as ISO/TC307.

The Focus Group’s next meetings are planned for January and May 2018. Join the group’s mailing list, request access to documents and sign-up to a working group on the homepage of the ITU Focus Group on ‘Application of Distributed Ledger Technology’.

  • Was this article Helpful ?
  • yes   no
© International Telecommunication Union 1865-2017 All Rights Reserved.
ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.