While the practical and financial viability of the Bitcoin blockchain is still an open question, new research shows that the whole thing could already be illegal in most countries. Researchers in Germany discovered that the ledger system that provides the backbone for Bitcoin contains hundreds of links to child pornography and at least one image thought to be child pornography.

The team from Germany’s RWTH Aachen University presented their new paper at a conference in Curaçao recently, and their findings have the potential to derail the entire multi-billion dollar blockchain industry. Individual blocks in the overall “chain” store records of transactions and can potentially store small notes or files—often the notes are just used to acknowledge what the transaction was for.

The researchers set out to study the approximately 1,600 files that were stored on the blockchain at the time. (We say, “at the time,” because more files may have been added recently, not because those 1,600 files might be gone.

The idea of the blockchain is that the ledger is permanent.) The team found that 99 percent of the files consisted of either text or an image and a relatively small number of files contained sexual content—only eight. But one of those files was identified as a pornographic image of a subject who was likely underage.

Two other files contained a total of 274 links to child abuse, 142 of those links directed to the dark web. The researchers write, “our analysis shows that certain content, e.g., illegal pornography, can render the mere possession of a blockchain illegal.” According to the paper, 112 countries prohibit the possession of child pornography and of those countries, many have other restrictions that prohibit the distribution of that kind of material. Read more from gizmodo.com…

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