I know this is a hot topic at the moment, and I really don't want to create some kind of debate here, i'm just interested in if this question is adressed. Any other place where I have spent time, it's impossible to get any good objective answer to this question because of all the politics. Stackexchange, you are my last hope.

As far as I can understand, the common expectation is that lightning network will be a distributed, but not decentralized. If one or more countries started saying to nodes that shovel a lot of bitcoin: "We consider you banks now and you cannot participate in a payment-routing unless you have Know Your Customer/Ante Money Laundering compliance on all participants in the chain, effectively splitting the lightning network into a legal and an illegal part, does the lightning network have any kind of protection against this?

2 Answers 2


this is a bit of an old question I assume you've found the answer by now, but I'll answer it so others can benefit.

the short answer is yes the lightning network is censorship resistant.

although naturally some nodes will be more connected and therefor more traffic will go through them, but there is no necessary nodes there will usually be alternate paths between 2 nodes so if a node refuses to let a payment go through the payment will just go through a different path.

more importantly the Lightning network uses onion routing which means each node will only know the node that was before it and the node that came after it, therefore they can't discriminate based on who is the sender or receiver of the transaction.

BOLT #4: Onion Routing Protocol: https://github.com/lightningnetwork/lightning-rfc/blob/master/04-onion-routing.md


If regulators disallow both direct and indirect channels to “black market” nodes, that would split the network in two unless I’m missing something.

Despite onion routing, clients need to know the topology of the network beforehand to be able to pick a route. There would be a constant struggle to only share that information with some people and not others (regulators).

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