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See: Feb. 16, 2023 https://www.wsj.com/articles/bitcoin-core-maintainers-crypto-7b93804

Not sure if this is considered a "hit piece". But this is classic MSM. Writing a superficially neutral article that is actually laying the groundwork for future defamation of target individuals.

The most likely attack vector I can see against Bitcoin right now is through the usage of inscriptions. Unlike Ethereum NFTs, which are simpyl URLs, Bitcoin Inscriptions are the indelible storage of data on chain for the rest of eternity.

Adversaries of Bitcoin are likely to inscribe thousands of illicit images onto the base layer of Bitcoin. Note that the FBI has the world's largest collection of CSAM. Every time they bust a case, they store everything.

Running a Bitcoin Full Archival Node involves the deliberate storage and distribution of information. It is most closely analogous to running Bit Torrent. Once thousands of illicit images get inscribed on chain, it is then very difficult to argue in court that running a full node is of the same nature as browsing the web and then accidentally having illicit images stored in your Temporary Internet Files folder. If distributing illicit images via Bit Torrent is illegal, then running a Bitcoin Full Archival Node would become illegal, under such an attack scenario.

This could result in the deplatforming of Bitcoin Core from Github and the prosecution of core developers. The media's role in all this is to whip up public opinion by characterizing Bitcoin as a centralized project that is being used for the distribution of illicit images. This is how the MSM works. Defame, then deplatform.

The attack vector described above is not some castle in the sky fud. It is a clear and present danger.

So I would suggest a Bit Torrent model of Bitcoin development for the future. There is no "reference implementation" of Bit Torrent. No Bit Torrent client has a 99% monopoly over the market, unlike Bitcoin Core which has 99% monopoly. I think Bitcoin Core should voluntarily remove itself from Github. Core developers should join Bitcoin companies and develop standalone implementations of Bitcoin Full Nodes.

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This will probably get closed due to inconsistent moderation on what does and doesn't constitute an opinion. A lot of interesting technical questions require some element of opinion and this site caters for multiple answers to the same question so I'm not entirely sure why an inconsistent crackdown on opinions is necessary. Clearly this isn't a site for legal advice so I won't touch on the legal aspect.

The most likely attack vector I can see against Bitcoin right now is through the usage of inscriptions. Unlike Ethereum NFTs, which are simpyl URLs, Bitcoin Inscriptions are the indelible storage of data on chain for the rest of eternity.

I do not see this as an attack vector at all. OP_RETURN has allowed up to 80 bytes of data to be stored in an output for years dating back to Bitcoin Core versions prior to 0.10 (2015). If it truly was an attack vector it would have been disabled many years ago. There will always be ways to include a relatively small number of bytes in a transaction as a transaction is just a set of bytes/bits that meet the consensus rules. You could argue that the OP_RETURN limit should be smaller but 80 bytes is not huge. Apparently a 1x1 grey pixel JPEG is 125 bytes for comparison.

Adversaries of Bitcoin are likely to inscribe thousands of illicit images onto the base layer of Bitcoin. Note that the FBI has the world's largest collection of CSAM. Every time they bust a case, they store everything.

This is also nothing new. Dating back years we can expect bad actors to include data referencing illicit images in transactions on the blockchain. The illicit images themselves are too big to store in say a single Bitcoin output, transaction or block so it is merely references and inscriptions. It is possible they could be split and spread over many blocks but this is the same as splitting an illicit image into many fragments and then sending multiple emails with a single letter in them. Banning or censoring email for this reason is clearly ludicrous as would attempts to ban or censor the blockchain (to the extent that this would even be possible).

This could result in the deplatforming of Bitcoin Core from Github and the prosecution of core developers.

There are alternatives to GitHub and Bitcoin Core as a project could still function (although less efficiently) with no central repository say by emailing patches to maintainers. Legal action against developers (unfortunately) is also nothing new.

Core developers should join Bitcoin companies and develop standalone implementations of Bitcoin Full Nodes.

Some Core developers already work or are funded by Bitcoin companies. Alternative Bitcoin implementations exist, both consensus compatible forks of Bitcoin Core like Bitcoin Knots and rewrites of Bitcoin Core in various different languages e.g. libbitcoin in C++, bcoin in Javascript, btcd in Go. Bitcoin Core is the dominant implementation on the network and there have been instances of some of these rewrites of Bitcoin Core falling out of consensus with Bitcoin Core and not being as performant.

Can Bitcoin survive without Bitcoin Core?

With regards to the title of your question I certainly think so. In a long term worst case scenario where Bitcoin Core was totally compromised by bad actors a code repository can be forked and distributed outside of the Bitcoin Core GitHub organization. It would clearly be disruptive but Bitcoin's future needn't and shouldn't exclusively rest on a GitHub organization not being compromised.

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  • @WUEEYHDH: Users are free to run alternative implementations to Core whatever views you and me have on them. I don't think disbanding Core is the right response to concerns over dominance and/or non Core nodes frequently falling out of consensus. In a world where there is uncertainty over the latest state of the blockchain having a perceived reference implementation to fall back to seems a strength rather than a weakness to me. Feb 21 at 12:42
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Every now and then we face these kind of arguments, but Bitcoin is pure TCP-IP and that is why is indestructible. The new trend you mention is not economically viable and will die due to impracticality. Bitcoin does not maintain a database of pictures per se, at most is a long chain of bits 101010101... that are organizing transactions in trees for future reference when someone wants to transfer value between peers or just check the balance of their UTXOs.

Trying to ban, defame and deplatform Bitcoin because someone says and shows a picture using a third party program to visualize it and leads to some TXID with extra garbage data, following some parameters, is like trying to ban emails because someone is sharing bits of data in different email accounts using 'email drafts' not sent that lead to visualize illegal content, or banning bank notes because you can literally write a hidden link to a site where you have data to recreate an illegal picture somewhere using some program or banning books because someone described a way to access illegal content by letting everyone know which pages to go to and what to type in a myriad of sites through Tor.

Bitcoin is a network of transactions, and that is publicly known. It has not leadership or owner and as such, is indestructible.

It will survive without maintainers because it already works, the sooner we dismiss and get rid of developers and maintainers, the better.

Some may try to ban it using those flawed arguments you described, but it will lead to failure, once again. There are literally thousands of pictures stored using OP_RETURN and addresses that do not have a known private key that point to illegal content since Bitcoin started running.

The fact that no one has gone the route of banning is useless. Nodes are not truly public (only those that allow you to check balances in known sites and they can literally block access to that extra trash content and, 'voila', it does not exist anymore.

This is a new episode, just like others. We had many like these through the years. Just focus on the signal, keep using Bitcoin as medium of exchange and store of value and ignore the noise.

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