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Bitcoin-powered assassination market targets Obama, Bernanke, and others

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bitcoin strength in numbers 1020
bitcoin strength in numbers 1020

Bitcoin has long been accused of aiding money-laundering, but today it's been implicated in a more grisly business: assassination. In Forbes, Andy Greenberg details a site called Assassination Market, which offers up crowdfunded bounties for the murder of public figures. As previously reported in The Daily Dot, the site is primarily motivated by hostility to overreaching government, offering bounties ranging from 40 bitcoin for President Obama to a whopping 124 bitcoin for outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke. At current bitcoin rates, that would add up to over $70,000.

The site takes advantage of a feature that lets users encode information in a Bitcoin transaction. By predicting the date of the assassination in advance and encoding that information in a one-dollar donation, a user could verify she was responsible and thus claim the money. As Greenberg points out, it's similar to the assassination market model posited by cypherpunks in the '90s, but the new site has put the idea into practice using modern anonymizing tools and is currently collecting real money, potentially attracting the attention of federal law enforcement.

It's doubtful that anyone will actually follow through on the hits, but the site serves as a reminder of how potentially destabilizing anonymous marketplaces can be. It's particularly poorly timed for Bitcoin, as the currency faces increased regulation in many states, as well as a hearing in the House of Representatives later today. It's also unclear whether the site can stay out of reach of law enforcement, after similar projects like Silk Road have fallen prey to minor slips in operational security. Forbes contacted the FBI and Secret Service for the piece, but both declined to comment, and it's unclear how they plan to respond.