People are stashing irrevocable child porn links, dox, copyright infringement, and leaked state secrets in the blockchain


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/19/cant-block-the-signal.html


#2

For what purpose? Are there blockchain miners trying to poison the well?


#3

Wow. That seems… bad for blockchain technologies until we develop legal and social ethics for grappling with such poison pills.

I wonder if there’s a way to embed legally binding social contracts within the blockchain?

I wonder if the kind of exemptions ISPs, search engines, etc. get with respect to content transmitted/transacted using their services could be applied to individuals transacting in blockchain ledgers?

I wonder if blockchain will turn out—appearances to the contrary in recent years—to be a dead end technology because of this and other anti-social exploits of it that we have not yet seen?


#4

#5

Reminds me of the talk that most dollar bills have trace amounts of cocaine. One of the quaint “problems” of old-timey money.


#6

Not only why, but how? Just how big is this blockchain? I’ve always imagined it in kB, but you can’t stash Tb of data in something that small, and it doesn’t sound like it’s just offending url’s. (As we all know, merely pointing to naughtiness makes you naughty in the eyes of the law.) It sounds like somebody stuffed the entire Lord of the Rings in there, and I don’t mean the Kindle version!


#7

There’s a pretty big legal difference between a “trace” amount of cocaine - i.e., not enough to really matter to anything - and actual child pornography you can really view. It’s unclear exactly how bad the bitcoin blockchain is from this.

ETA: Though the paper makes it sound like it’s pretty bad.


#8

In terms of the child porn. At least in most wester/free countries viewing/possessing something with links to child porn isn’t neccisarily illegal. It’s possession or distribution of the images themselves. Knowingly Posting those links may qualify. But simply possessing a copy of the block chain containing them likely doesn’t. Otherwise everyone who had swung by 4chan during certain periods and had a cached version of the wrong page in their browser would be at risk.

I’d assume they’re trying to exploit a grey area for plausible deniability reasons. Stash links in a broadly distributed file. That has tons of other reasons to be there. That cant be removed. So you have them excusabley on hand. "no officer I certainly didn’t load up a dozen layers of identity hiding software and click on those links. Thats just the block chain and I’m all about crytpo mining! " bitcoin/crypto is a common method of paying for that sort of content these days. I’d be willing to bet distributors are heavily involved with various crypto currencies. And your average child porn affictionado has probably had more cause to actually use the currency end of these things than most.

Could just be trolling too. A certain proportion of the shitlord demographic will spam childporn just about any and everywhere just to stir shit.


#9

In December of last year the Bitcoin blockchain was 149 gigabytes in size. Right now it’s 161 gigabytes, and always growing.


#10

Well, when you participate in the blockchain aren’t you effectively posting the links as well as possessing them since other people are going to check their chain against yours and/or get a copy of the chain from you?

I realize that’s a kind of aggressive idea of sharing, but we are talking about the most reviled crime of our era. It’s not like people are going to be in a mood to be forgiving. The saying is that “bad facts make bad law”.

If someone was offering a bet between:

a) blockchain ends up being saved because people try to take a reasonable view of this type of problem; or
b) some bitcoin miners end up on sex offender registries and terrible precedents are set for other laws involving linking

I’d be holding my money for the moment. It might be largely a question of how effective bitcoin owners are at lobbying governments. But the fact that this stuff can never be erased is pretty damning, and may end up being politically poisonous, especially since the public largely won’t understand the issue.


#11

Oh yeah, no doubt. It’s why I said it seems quaint by comparison.


#12

Oh it’s definitely a grey area. But it’s kind of the “knowingly” part and down to what you can get the courts to endorse as distribution. Distribution is usually determined by possession and transit of the media itself. And intent is a big thing in criminal law. If you don’t know the links are there, And the images themselves aren’t in the blockchain. Then you’re probably not on the hook for distribution. If you put the links there or distribute the block chain with explicit purpose of propagating that media. Or host the images. Then you are. Draconian governments or law enforcement that only care about numbers/what have don’t neccisarily care.

But from what I’ve seen specialist units/prosecutors and the FBI. As an example avoid prosecuting people who unknowingly download or view actual child porn. For a very clear and easy example in those rare cases where a mainstream porn star turned out to be underaged with fake ID when they started out in the business. Law enforcement doesn’t exactly go out and prosecute everyone who acquired that media not knowing. Or even prosecuting the producers and distributors who made it unknowingly.

Nothing but common sense and likelihood of success at court prevents them from doing so though. So the risk is absolutely there for everyone with a copy of the block chain. Especially those in autocratic nations or places like China (where the censored new is likely just as big a deal).

In terms of crytpo as investment (as opposed to personal risk of prosecution) some governments will absolutely use this as an excuse for regulation. And less tech savvy politicians will seize on the dangers of child porn/moral panic end of things. So it can really only be bad for the bubble.


#13

Yes. Yes it will.


#14

I once got a dollar bill with boobies drawn on it so there’s pornography there too.


#15

I ran across this the other day.

In all his the web is wonderful and will only contribute to the greater good early web enthusiasm. He’s effectively arguing that what we’re seeing here as being the only potential use for block chain. An unsupressable, undeniable, persistent, public record and publication.

We’re basically seeing exactly what he’s proposing with the censored Chinese news stories. Though of course with the childporn were also seeing the negative end that the Silicon Valley optimist or techno utopian set never anticipate.

I think that’s probably the only plausible long term use. And most pitches on the magic of block chain that make any sense revolve around that sort of thing. More easily updated and distributed medical records, government records/accountability. But there are issues. Like this childporn one. And practical concern. I mean just in terms of size. Apparently the block chain for bitcoin is already 149gb. And it’s basically just a running text file. Thats impractically large.


#16


More details, a couple of interesting links and a bit of feedback from the researchers and blockchain developers.


#17

:astonished::astonished::astonished:


#18

Dirtbags. Ruin. Everything.


#19

Yet - at the same time we’re all wringing our hands about all the bad the Block-chain carries, we ignore the good: like a book on how Peter Thiel is such a douche-canoe of suing Gawker into oblivion simply because they revealed he was a homosexual. Now imagine of some careerists inside the US Government decided to leak some juicy stuff and place it on a block-chain only available to journalists…


#20

Actually it isn’t about storing blob data in blockchain. Not possible. It is about storing links to data in blockchain, and combining that with decentralized data storage solutions that are impossible to censor. Seeing as data can be encrypted, you could run a very private and very small group that specializes in some form of exploitation. So, human trafficking, child pornography, etc. It could also be used to post compromising data on ordinary citizens.

If you ask these services who are creating this brave new world how they plan to protect citizens from this potential abuse, they’ll give you one of these

¯_(ツ)_/¯.