A few days ago I made a very disturbing discovery; After I posted about PayPub, the project to allow people to get paid for leaking information, I wanted to see if anyone had created another Cypherpunk thought experiment, an assassination market:
An assassination market or market for assassinations is a prediction market where any party can place a bet (using anonymous electronic money, and pseudonymous remailers) on the date of death of a given individual, and collect a payoff if they “guess” the date accurately. <via Wikipedia>
Turns out, there is one running on ToR and it has a list of people and payouts.
|Eva Carin Beatrice Ask||Sweden||Alive||1,016.15 mBTC|
|Jyrki Tapani Katainen||Finland||Alive||1,000.00 mBTC|
|François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande||France||Alive||1,000.00 mBTC|
|Barack Hussein Obama II||United States||Alive||40,259.82 mBTC|
|Ben Shalom Bernanke||United States||Alive||124,219.73 mBTC|
|Keith Brian Alexander||United States||Alive||10,493.83 mBTC|
|James Robert Clapper, Jr.||United States||Alive||1,973.20 mBTC|
I assumed, like PayHub, it would be a proof of concept, but this purports to be real and it is funded. The way it works is people pledge money in Bitcoin to a pool, and you may “guess” the date of a person’s demise to win the money. According to Forbes it was started in July of 2013 and started with modest amounts for rewards:
For now, the site’s rewards are small but not insignificant. In the four months that Assassination Market has been online, six targets have been submitted by users, and bounties have been collected ranging from ten bitcoins for the murder of NSA director Keith Alexander and 40 bitcoins for the assassination of President Barack Obama to 124.14 bitcoins–the largest current bounty on the site–targeting Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve and public enemy number one for many of Bitcoin’s anti-banking-system users. At Bitcoin’s current rapidly rising exchanges rate, that’s nearly $75,000 for Bernanke’s would-be killer.
At first I thought the ransom on Bernanke today was close to $80M, but that was before I learned that mBTC is a thousandth of a Bitcoin, so it is actually around $80,000. Still, that is money that people have pledged for the death of another human being; even as a political statement I think that’s messed up.
I wonder if there would be any criminal responsibility for incentivizing murder?
At a minimum, I bet the Secret Service will be (rightly) doing their best to track down the people offering to reward someone for assassinating President Obama.
I expect this is illegal in several ways. And yes, I expect the Secret Service is looking into this.