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No, There Isn't Child Porn on the Bitcoin Blockchain

• https://news.bitcoin.com

Anyone swiping through the tech news on their tablet this week may have been startled by an unsavory story. Child pornography (CP) is permanently encoded in the bitcoin blockchain accoriding to mainstream media reports, making anyone who downloads the blockchain guilty of accessing CP. Not only is this old news, but it's fake news. Understanding why calls for taking a quick dip into bitcoin's code.

Bitcoin's Boogeyman Returns

No one can really recall what bitcoin was branded as first: a tool of terrorists, drug dealers, or child pornographers. All that can be said for certain is all three canards have been trotted out regularly over the years. Only last week in the U.S. Senate, Representative Brad Sherman expressed hope that a cryptocurrency panel would reconvene immediately after there had been a terrorist attack funded by crypto. But that was last week; this week it's all about pornography of the worst kind. CP is the topic du jour thanks to a new research paper. Its abstract explains:

Blockchains…irrevocably record arbitrary data, ranging from short messages to pictures. This does not come without risk for users as each participant has to locally replicate the complete blockchain, particularly including potentially harmful content…Our analysis shows that certain content, e.g., illegal pornography, can render the mere possession of a blockchain illegal…our analysis reveals more than 1600 files on the blockchain, over 99% of which are texts or images. Among these files there is clearly objectionable content such as links to child pornography, which is distributed to all Bitcoin participants.

This all sounds pretty damning, and given some of the alarmist headlines the paper has generated, you would have thought the FBI van was speeding its way to every address known to operate a full bitcoin node. But that's not quite how the real story goes.

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