A recent update to Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision (BSV) protocol has recently been exploited for posting data involving child abuse on the blockchain, prompting block explorers and apps to monitor the network for other similar content, TNW-powered publication Hard Fork reported February 4.
The detestable content was initially detected on Bitcoinfiles.org, a website hosted by the BSV protocol following a recent upgrade which expanded the network’s storage capacity for data transactions by 450 times, that is, an additional 100KB more for recording various content on the blockchain, including images, video as well as audio files.
According to investigations, the illicit content was uploaded with Money Button facilitating the transaction, BSV’s proprietary payment app.
As detailed in the report:
“[The website] contacted us suspecting that Money Button may have been used to write the data, since Money Button is a very convenient/easy tool to write data to the [BSV] blockchain. Sure enough – we checked our database and this criminal did in fact use Money Button.”
The report went on, surmising that:
“Almost certainly, whoever posted this was trying to prove a point about inserting something illegal into the blockchain, since that content can never be removed.”
Unless BSV network hard forks to revert such transactions, the illicit content will remain hosted by the blockchain, given its immutable nature.
As the platform’s spokesperson underscored:
“It is not possible to delete things from the blockchain. Block explorers have stopped showing the data in those transactions.”
BSV is a Bitcoin Cash hard fork created in November 2018 to dramatically increase the blockchain’s original block size in an effort to boost the network’s efficiency as usage increases over the years. These changes to the blockchain’s transactional data limits is what eventually enabled BSV users to store images and videos onto the network.
Addressing the current situation, Jimmy Nguyen, the CEO of nChain, the blockchain R&D firm behind the BSV protocol, stated that BSV is simply a data ledger like any other platform that stores data, and as such, there is always a possibility that it could be exploited to record illicit contents.
As Nguyen emphasized in the report:
“This is nothing unique to BSV. The same is true for the internet, and is true for the Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrency networks – on which illegal content likely already lives. We of course do not encourage nor want illegal content on BSV or any technology platform.”
While BSV’s increase in transactional data limits may have led to the problem, Nguyen stressed that reducing the data limits on blockchain transactions is not the solution, adding that:
“The answer does not lie in limiting the data capacity of the platform. Instead, responsible service providers operating on the BSV blockchain will take measures to prevent writing to or reading from the blockchain any content that is illegal.”
The situation, as Nguyen further pointed out, goes against BSV’s original ethos which is to promote legally-compliant business activities. To that end, he warned that anyone thinking about storing illicit content on the network should “think twice” as such data are required to be digitally signed prior to its addition, adding that:
“Those digital signatures are admissible in courts of law to prove possession of illicit material and intent to distribute.”
If BSV is unable to revert back the network’s latest transactional data limits, it is up to the services that comprise BSV’s network to monitor and censor the entire blockchain, Nguyen concluded.
As Money button’s spokesperson told Hard Fork:
“Since we are a wallet that writes data to the blockchain and reads data from the blockchain, we can moderate our own service. Just because this data was written to an immutable blockchain does not mean we have to host that data, and doesn’t mean we have to allow more data like that to be written to the blockchain through our service.”
Echoing Nguyen’s view, the firm further stated that the blockchain’s immutability does not matter in such cases if there are enough firms working together to make it difficult to store such illicit content on the BSV network, with criminals having no one to write these such data for them.
As Money Button’s spokesperson went on adding:
“Even miners could refuse to mine this content, although more than likely they will not parse it and will end up pruning it simply for economic reasons, because the miners are not incentivized to store this data. If the criminals can’t find anybody to write it to the blockchain for them, then they could mine themselves, but they probably won’t bother.”