Despite recent attempts to change its image, Bitcoin has long been associated with the black market; think drugs, sex and Silk Road, the now defunct online illegal marketplace. However, it seems the dark side of web has got even darker; Bitcoin can now be used to put a price on the head of your enemies.
Enter Assassination Market, an online platform that allows anyone to anonymously contribute bitcoins towards a bounty on the head of any government official. If crowdfunding an arts project seems a little tame, this might be the sort of thing you’re looking for.
Created in 2013, the website was first publicised when its creator anonymously contacted a journalist at Forbes magazine, using the pseudonym Kuwabatake Sanjuro. The concept is simple; people contribute money to a name on the list – which currently includes Barack Obama, Ben Bernanke and the Prime Minister of Finland – and predict when they will die. The person with the correct prediction presumably committed the act, so can then claim the money.
Whilst the site is innovative – and alarming – enough, the idea behind it is even more disturbing. Its creator hopes that, eventually, so many government officials will be assassinated through this service that no one will want to step up to the job – and voi la! The abolishment of the establishment is complete. In an interview with Forbes, he admitted that he intends Assassination Market to destroy “all governments, everywhere.”
“I believe it will change the world for the better,” wrote Sanjuro. ”Thanks to this system, a world without wars, dragnet panopticon-style surveillance, nuclear weapons, armies, repression, money manipulation, and limits to trade is firmly within our grasp for but a few bitcoins per person. I also believe that as soon as a few politicians gets offed and they realize they’ve lost the war on privacy, the killings can stop and we can transition to a phase of peace, privacy and laissez-faire.”
Bitcoin is the first well-known cryptocurrency, a type of decentralised digital currency that can be sent and received anonymously – making it perfect for the black market. Sanjuro chose to accept only Bitcoins to protect not only himself from being identified by the financial transactions, but his users and any potential assassins as well.
However, it appears that Sanjuro’s project may have started at the wrong time; the government have begun cracking down on online black markets, seizing Silk Road just months before Assassination Market went live. Forbes contacted the FBI and Secret Service for the piece, but both declined to comment.