The mainstream media generally run two types of stories, Fear based or Joy based. When it comes to Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency in general this rule is true with few exceptions. Bitcoin is either dead or booming, Bitcoin is either for Criminals or going to revolutionise the World as we know it forever and for everybody.
Over the past few weeks we have seen Bitcoins value correct from its earlier highs and there has been few developments in the space which fit into either of the preferred mainstream narratives of Fear or Joy – so instead they just reiterate old news, old ‘debunked’ news I might add.
The Independent ran a story last week entitled ‘Child sexual abuse images found embedded within cryptocurrency’s blockchain’, the story which originally circulated back in 2015 on the face of it appears to suggest that embedded within Bitcoins Blockchain is child sexual abuse images, the article goes onto state that because of this ‘fact’ those running their own node and downloading the blockchain are potentially committing a criminal act.
So What Was Found On The Blockchain?
Well according to The Independent the following was found regarding illegal or illicit imagery:
The Aachen University academics said they had uncovered eight indecent images in total – one of which involved a child – among the 1,600 files they analysed.
However in actual fact the ‘one of which involved a child’ is actually described in the research paper as ‘a young woman’ displaying ‘mild nudity’.
Bitcoin’s blockchain contains at least eight files with sexual content. While five files only show, describe, or link to mildly pornographic content, we consider the remaining three instances objectionable for almost all jurisdictions: Two of them are backups of link lists to child pornography,
containing 274 links to websites, 142 of which refer to Tor hidden services.
The remaining instance is an image depicting mild nudity of a young woman. In an online forum this image is claimed to show child pornography, albeit this claim cannot be verified (due to ethical concerns we refrain from providing a citation). Notably, two of the explicit images were only detected by our suspicious transaction detector, i.e., they were not inserted via known services.
It is worth noting however that a considerable number of links to child pornography have been added to the blockchain over the years, however, this is true with Reddit and other open Forums, Newsgroups, Bittorrent, Google and many other online resources.
Looking Forward – Is This a Problem?
It is possible this could be used by authorities to clampdown on Bitcoin if they chose to go down that route, because the very nature of Bitcoins Blockchain all data previously mined can never be changed, so if a Government does deem some data within the Blockchain illegal then in reality it would make anyone downloading the Blockchain within that authorities jurisdiction susceptible to prosecution. Whether developers can prevent such misuse of the blockchain is something worth considering, however exactly how such a preventative measure could be taken is unknown.
But the main point to take home here is that once again we are seeing negative press for the sake of negative press, similar stories have already circulated several times over the years, each time suggesting that Governments may make Bitcoins Blockchain illegal to download.