There’s something hidden inside it. The Bitcoin world is coming to grips with a shocking revelation that could potentially threaten the very existence of the world’s foremost cryptocurrency.

An analysis of the Bitcoin blockchain – the publicly accessible ledger of transactions upon which the system is built – has revealed this vast trove of data is irrevocably tainted with unremovable links to illegal child pornography, which are inevitably distributed among and by all users of the currency. The discovery of this – in addition to other questionable and possibly outlawed content stored within the blockchain – hypothetically makes Bitcoin ownership illegal in almost every country that has laws against the possession and distribution of images of child abuse.

That’s the view of a team led by researchers from Germany’s RWTH Aachen University, who sifted through the blockchain to examine how much “arbitrary data” it contained. While the open ledger is primarily intended to store financial information related to Bitcoin transactions, non-financial information can also be inserted into the blockchain by users on the system – and to drastic effect.

“Our analysis shows that certain content, eg. illegal pornography, can render the mere possession of a blockchain illegal,” the team writes in its paper.

“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 [system] as soon as it contains illegal content.” Read more from…

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