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Question: What do you think about the emergence of assassination markets facilitated by cryptocurrency ?
It's a natural effect of the market, some people need killing; don't be evil and you shall not be killed.
It's an unfortunate side effect of free currency; we have to accept it in order to be free ourselves.
It's a perversion of the Bitcoin system, and I would rather use a free currency that can't be used for that.
It's abhorrent, any technology that enables it, like Tor and Bitcoin, should be banned or regulated.

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Author Topic: I could just kill for some Bitcoins  (Read 7697 times)
BubbleBoy
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June 07, 2011, 10:06:46 AM
 #1

In light of the recent Silk Road controversy, I'd like to up the ante and go a bit further via a thought experiment.

A Tor onion site could be created that would trade assassination bounties instead of home made meth. The idea is clearly enabled by cryptocurency and was anticipated and even embraced by early cryptoanarchists such as Tim May.

This it how it could work:
  • Killing bids are accepted for well defined people, for example POTUS or your neighbour
  • Bids are cumulated by the market software in a public wallet that can be audited via the blockchain; if many people pledge money, the pot could grow considerably
  • Would-be-assassins would write a .txt description of the intended assassination plan that should be as detailed as possible, including date, method etc.
  • They would hash this .txt and, before the assassination, publish the hash signed with their wallet private key; the onion site would list all hashes published
  • After a successful whack the killer publishes the original .txt description which can be hashed by anyone thus proving that the owner of the wallet is the killer (no other party could have known the details of the murder in advance)
  • The bidders would vote if the killer's description is considered adequate, and if the funds are to be released to his wallet; this can be automated via Bitcoin's transaction scripting support
  • Alternatively, the onion site could perform the arbitration, while retaining a fee; after a few successful kills it would become a steady revenue stream, thus incentivizing the onion site to do good job during arbitration and protect it's business from competitors

I'm not passing any moral judgements yet and I've tried to describe the topic in an objective manner. What's is your opinion ?
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nazgulnarsil
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June 07, 2011, 10:10:05 AM
 #2

that isnt how assassination markets work at all.   Roll Eyes
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June 07, 2011, 10:13:25 AM
 #3

For anyone not familiar with this concept, please read Assassination Politics (in its entirety).

An assassination market such as this requires a few things: Blinded digital currency, public key cryptography, and preferably an anonymizing network such as Tor. Though this latter is optional; in theory this market could be run completely above board, out in the open, on a .com with a Las Vegas storefront, even. With a secretary who moonlights at the Bunny Ranch. But the anonymous currency is not optional.

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BubbleBoy
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June 07, 2011, 10:19:37 AM
 #4

that isnt how assassination markets work at all.   Roll Eyes

I've named my description an "assassination bounty" because I think it's the best approximation of what's likely to be implemented using existing technology.
I'm not proposing assassination as a state policy, rather a democratic version that could be used to punish corrupt leaders and noisy neighbours.
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June 07, 2011, 10:28:49 AM
 #5

If you want to kill someone with bitcoins, you first need to get those bitcoins, normally through money laundering. For examplo you could create or use a webpage like http://spendbitcoins.com/ to spend the money on bitcoins. Now you have clean bitcoins to pay. You use tor so they can't trace you, of course. You pay the assasin in bitcoins through clearcoin, the job is done and you are a happy bastard  Cheesy

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June 07, 2011, 11:33:20 AM
 #6

As I said in my openmarket.org post here:

http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=12978.0

Quote
Circling back to bitcoin, I submit to you that any objection you can come up with equally applies to
cash, since both exist in digital and physical form (bitbills) and have the same problems (used for legal
and illegal transactions).

The "what if bitcoin is used for <insert bad behavior>" argument or hypothetical scenario exists for any action that can be financed by cash. The reason of course, is that bitcoin is the same as cash - with some nice crypto improvements, for starters.


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June 07, 2011, 11:35:23 AM
 #7

At least on such market the potential victims would see that someone wants to kill them.

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June 07, 2011, 11:43:47 AM
 #8

At least on such market the potential victims would see that someone wants to kill them.

Which is exactly why no-one with half a brain would use such markets, unless maybe to intimidate.

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Alex Beckenham
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June 07, 2011, 12:00:33 PM
 #9

Quote
It's an unfortunate side effect of free currency; we have to accept it in order to be free ourselves.

It's a neutral side effect of free currency; we can choose to accept it in order to be free ourselves.

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June 07, 2011, 12:23:33 PM
 #10

Well, like those above me said, it's just a consequence of freedom.  Not to derail this conversation too much, but this gave me an idea for a pie-in-face market.  People could contribute money to pie-bounties of people they'd like to see get a pie in the face.  Then pie-ninjas could perform these tasks. 

This list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_have_been_pied would get a lot longer.  Can someone start working on the art for this market?

BubbleBoy
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June 07, 2011, 12:39:52 PM
 #11

At least on such market the potential victims would see that someone wants to kill them.

Which is exactly why no-one with half a brain would use such markets, unless maybe to intimidate.

I'm pretty sure on any given date there are quite a number of people who would like to see Julian Assange dead, I don't think there's any surprise about that. Maybe even thousands of people willing to pledge a 100$ bill for the job, as I'm sure there are many killers out there who could arrange the assassination of Assange for a few hundred thousand $. Yet Assange lives on, because in the physical world it would be impossible to connect that demand with the supply. You would either be jailed when soliciting the murder, or when picking up the pay.
The proposed Tor + Bitcoin combo connects supply and demand, and if the technologies work as advertised the parties are safe and the payout is certain. What exactly would preclude people with full brains to use it ?

Quote from: TraderTimm
The "what if bitcoin is used for <insert bad behavior>" argument or hypothetical scenario exists for any action that can be financed by cash. The reason of course, is that bitcoin is the same as cash - with some nice crypto improvements, for starters.

The algorithm I propose does not work with cash for obvious reasons. Can you propose an algorithm that achieves a similar level of privacy based on cash ? Alternatively, can you point to a flaw that would prevent the algorithm to work as proposed ? For it seems without answer to either, cryptocash can indeed enable transactions regular cash can't.

Quote from: Gabriel Beal
Then pie-ninjas could perform these tasks. 

Bringing pie ninjas is a bit of a derailment since pie ninjas are already plausible in our society. It's like arguing that you can make forks and spoons out of HEU that are only slightly more radioactive than depleted uranium ones, so HEU can't be that bad. The real question is if the preponderant use of the technology is the immoral one, not if benign uses are also possible.
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June 07, 2011, 01:20:51 PM
 #12


The algorithm I propose does not work with cash for obvious reasons. Can you propose an algorithm that achieves a similar level of privacy based on cash ? Alternatively, can you point to a flaw that would prevent the algorithm to work as proposed ? For it seems without answer to either, cryptocash can indeed enable transactions regular cash can't.


I think we're agreeing on the same point - that while bitcoin is similar to cash, it enables transactions that cash can't provide. My point about people arguing *against* bitcoin is, you can apply the same objections to cash transactions. Could I start up some kind of anonymous dead-drop system using cash-filled briefcases and codewords? Sure, it may be more cumbersome but it can be done.

In summary, bitcoin is better than cash even though you can level the same criticisms against both.

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June 07, 2011, 01:30:29 PM
 #13

I'm pretty sure on any given date there are quite a number of people who would like to see Julian Assange dead, I don't think there's any surprise about that. Maybe even thousands of people willing to pledge a 100$ bill for the job, as I'm sure there are many killers out there who could arrange the assassination of Assange for a few hundred thousand $. Yet Assange lives on, because in the physical world it would be impossible to connect that demand with the supply. You would either be jailed when soliciting the murder, or when picking up the pay.
The proposed Tor + Bitcoin combo connects supply and demand, and if the technologies work as advertised the parties are safe and the payout is certain. What exactly would preclude people with full brains to use it ?

Because publicly showing a lot of people want someone killed, ASAP, is likely to get that person to protect themselves, decreasing the odds of success for the assassin.

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BubbleBoy
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June 07, 2011, 01:54:48 PM
 #14

I think you are ignoring the highly advantageous position the killer has in such a game. Think about the budget of L.H Oswald versus the money spent for Kennedy's protection during his term, it could easily be 1:1000 or 1:10000 yet it still wasn't enough. Basically, the attacker can focus on the weakest link, while the defender must protect all avenues of attack.

It would also make life 100% crappy for the target with a modest budget. Those who pledge the money are assured that Assange can't have any public life or vacation and is pretty much confined to a well guarded secret fortress, Osama stile. The mere threat of such a life can quickly silence unpopular individuals - self-reinforcing mob rule. The pledgers don't even pay the bounty price, just the interest on it; if the bounty is dropped they recover the pledge.

Quote from: TraderTimm
My point about people arguing *against* bitcoin is, you can apply the same objections to cash transactions. Could I start up some kind of anonymous dead-drop system using cash-filled briefcases and codewords? Sure, it may be more cumbersome but it can be done.

I would argue that both the demand and supply clearly exist. Therefore the absence of such systems is itself evidence they are cumbersome to the point of being impractical when using regular cash. The apparent ease with which the task can be achieved using cryptocash points that we are dealing with a different beast altogether.
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June 08, 2011, 12:45:18 AM
 #15

Julian Assange would not be accepted for listing on an AP market, as he is not a government employee.

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June 08, 2011, 03:09:24 AM
 #16

"Assassination market" is a contradiction in terms. Obviously, a murderer does not take into account the will of his victim.

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June 09, 2011, 11:54:41 AM
 #17

This thread is spooky.

Actually such a site or the business model involved would be a big threat to BTC and TOR etc.

Imagine bounties for
* 10 jews bombed
* a dirty bomb killing at least x people on Berlin
* an A-bomb somewhere.

That directly leads to bounties for
* not setting off said A-bomb: "Country XY put forces together to find the bomb! If by [date] there are x coins on that bounty, I will let you find the bomb." With the said service people would trust that the guy will only get the bounty if he actually has a bomb. Spooky, isn't it?
* not killing hostages: I kidnapped person x.

Send money to address ... to see him alive is clearly easier than to meet in the park to hand over the money. Oh ... how boring all those action movies will get Sad

Actually cryptography makes all dirty crimes easier. Of course bounties to kill dictators might again be much easier to be payed by so called democratic states so maybe they see an incentive for such services, too.

I hope such services involving people getting killed will face the moral of enough hackers to take them down individually. Maybe a bounty to take down the bounty site anybody?

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June 09, 2011, 12:10:40 PM
 #18

Before bitcoin it was fairly easy to pay an assassin.  It still is.  Cash is cash is cash.  Dope, murder, blah blah blah.  It is irrelevant.
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June 09, 2011, 04:59:32 PM
 #19

I'm a little disappointed that there was no poll option for "it is inevitable, but concerned citizens should do their best to help law enforcement catch anyone involved"

That's how I feel about the Silk Road too, incidentally.

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June 09, 2011, 05:25:49 PM
 #20

I'm a little disappointed that there was no poll option for "it is inevitable, but concerned citizens should do their best to help law enforcement catch anyone involved"

That's how I feel about the Silk Road too, incidentally.

Why would you want to help a bunch of thugs put non-violent people in prison?

If Bitcoin is made illegal, will you do your best to help law enforcement catch Bitcoin users?
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