What happens to bitcoin if the Internet goes down?


A post from Garth Kiser over at the blog Pursuing Nothing caught Bitbeat’s eye. Mr. Kiser is clearly an enthusiast for bitcoin, which he calls a “monumental leap towards a peer-governed future,” but he worries about how the distributed network that runs its core infrastructure would handle a major disruption to the Internet.

“Imagine a widespread global conflict in which all satellites and undersea cables are sabotaged,” he writes. “The Internet’s distributed nature is designed so that connected computers will remain so, but no longer would they remain connected to computers outside of their region.” He argues that you’d end up with a fragmented network where bitcoin transactions get confirmed in one region while others are confirmed elsewhere, leading to irreconcilable chaos in the digital currency’s core “blockchain” ledger once the global network is restored.

For this reason, Mr. Kiser is calling on the Bitcoin Foundation and others to build and maintain a global network of solar-powered mobile blockchain servers that are connected to high-frequency shortwave modems. They’d have to be stored in undisclosed locations and be designed to automatically transmit all the blockchain data to the various networks as soon as the Internet fails, he says.

Mr. Kiser is asking for comments from technical experts about his idea.

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