Bitcoin’s blockchain is storing links to child abuse images.

German researchers have discovered that criminals have embedded objectionable content including links to child abuse images within the Bitcoin blockchain.

Researchers from RWTH Aachen University said that the issue lay with how the blockchain – the indelible distributed ledger that records all Bitcoin transactions – can also record other arbitrary data.

In their whitepaper presented at a conference in Curacao, the team wrote:

Although court rulings do not yet exist, legislative texts from countries such as Germany, the UK, or the US suggest that illegal content such as child sexual exploitation images can make the blockchain illegal to possess for all users.

The discovery potentially means that possession of the blockchain – which is necessary to participate in Bitcoin – could be illegal in at least 112 countries.

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