Blockchain Will Be Theirs, Russian Spy Boasted at Conference

One of the Russian delegates to the I.S.O. blockchain group, Maxim Shevchenko, gave a talk last summer in Russia in which he spoke about the country’s goals in the I.S.O. group. The bullet points on the slide included “possibility to influence the technology” and “implementation Russian standards and solutions worldwide.”

Another member of the Russian delegation, Alexey Urivskiy, told the Russian newspaper Vedomosti last year that the delegation at the I.S.O. committee was supposed to get Russian cryptographic algorithms into the standard. The Vedomosti article said that the head of the Russian I.S.O. delegation, Mr. Marshalko, was affiliated with the F.S.B.

Russia is not the only country pushing hard on the blockchain. Many Chinese government offices have been public about their interest in taking advantage of the blockchain technology for tasks like tracking people and products moving through industrial supply chains.

At the I.S.O. meetings last fall in Tokyo, the Chinese government sent one of the largest delegations, with at least nine people, including representatives from the finance ministry and the Chinese central bank, according to a delegate from another country who met the Chinese participants.

The United States delegation was led at the last meeting by a Microsoft employee and included a delegate from IBM. Microsoft and IBM are two of the global companies that have pushed hardest to develop blockchain technology.

At the first meeting of the I.S.O. blockchain group, the Russian delegation led a study group on security and privacy issues, which caused discomfort among some delegates from other countries, according to the two delegates who spoke to The New York Times. At a second meeting, oversight for these issues was transferred to a working group led by France.

Mr. Verdian, the head of the British group, said lots of delegations were jockeying to get an edge on the new technology.

“It will change how our society can operate, but at the same time, in harnessing this technology people might want to leverage that for their own gain,” he said. “We all owe it to each other to do it right so that it benefits all of us rather than a few.”