Child Abuse Images And Sexual Content Found On Bitcoin’s Blockchain
Bitcoin continues to be this mysterious new digital currency that's sweeping the nations. So many new millionaires have been made by the cryptocurrency and so many have lost as well since Bitcoin exhibit a heart-stopping volatility in the market.
The crypto sector has experienced so many horrors in the past months, with cryptocoins vanishing into thin air, hackers getting into digital exchanges, millions of dollars laundered, and prices tremendously rising and plummeting for no apparent reasons.
But the newest controversy that now takes over Bitcoin lies a bit deeper in its code.
For the uninitiated, the transparency and perceived benefits of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies lies in its open-source, distributed ledger that records every transaction. This ledger is what we call blockchain. While blockchains, for the purposes of Bitcoin, is used to store financial data, it is also able to store non-financial data like files and links. In fact, the ability of blockchains to store these little pockets of data could be used for digital notary services, rights management, or non-equivocation system.
But it seems that bad stuff has already called dibs on these fixed open spaces.
A recent study conducted by researchers from the RWTH Aachen University in Germany dug deep into the crevices of Bitcoin blockchain and found at least 1,600 files not related to financial transactions were currently stored in bitcoin’s blockchain.
Eight of the files found contained sexual content, with one including the sexual abuse of a child. Two files were also found to contain 274 links to child abuse content.
Some 142 files were also found to be linking to dark webs, where illegal services and products could be bought and sold.
As of now, at least 112 countries ban the possession of child pornography. This means that if the blockchain of Bitcoin has been injected with this content, it can essentially ban the cryptocurrency from these countries.
According to the researchers, “Our analysis shows that certain content, eg, illegal pornography, can render the mere possession of a blockchain illegal. Although court rulings do not yet exist, legislative texts from countries such as Germany, the UK, or the USA suggest that illegal content such as [child abuse imagery] can make the blockchain illegal to possess for all users.”
“Since all blockchain data is downloaded and persistently stored by users, they are liable for any objectionable content added to the blockchain by others. Consequently, it would be illegal to participate in a blockchain-based systems as soon as it contains illegal content,” the researchers added.
And not only are these illegal content threatening to kill Bitcoin, essentially. Viruses and malwares were also detected in the blockchain, although none of the viruses were still powerful enough to cause havoc.
In 2015, the Interpol and Kaspersky Lab already warned against the possibility of bad actors injecting malicious data and malware into the code, which can then creep into the systems all over the world.
In that previous report, Interpol said, “The design of the blockchain means there is the possibility of malware being injected and permanently hosted with no methods currently available to wipe this data. This could affect ‘cyber hygiene’ as well as the sharing of child sexual abuse images where the blockchain could become a safe haven for hosting such data.”
It looks like the German researchers have finally found substantial proof for these threats that could possibly undermine the future of the Bitcoin’s bid for regulation and accreditation as a legitimate digital currency.