21st Century Wire says…
The latest Bitcoin scandal has the crypto-currency linked to a new online ‘Assassination Market‘, a rather disturbing concept of a website that theoretically allows anyone to contribute Bitcoins into a pool to fund the assassinations of a number of government officials.
The mystery ‘man’ behind this site cannot yet be identified as a real person. He is known only by his anonymous handle, ‘Kuwabatake Sanjuro’.
His motive: “Being forced to alter my every happy memory during internet activity, every intimate moment over the phone with my loved ones, to also include some of the people I hate the most listening in, analysing the conversation, was the inspiration I needed to embark on this task”.
Is this genuine, or is it an establishment ploy to demonize, and shut down the growing Bitcoin network?
Sanjuro seems to be an expert in PR as well, with a hotline to the right tech and finance feature writers, like Andy Greenberg from Forbes. Greenberg explains how Sanjuro gave him the exclusive on this breaking story:
“Last month I received an encrypted email from someone calling himself by the pseudonym Kuwabatake Sanjuro, who pointed me towards his recent creation, The Assassination Market, a crowd-funding service that lets anyone anonymously contribute Bitcoins towards a bounty on the head of any government official – a kind of Kickstarter for political assassinations”.
As if by magic, this site is also launched days ahead of the 50th Anniversary of the JFK Assassination, which cannot hurt the visibility of the website. How smooth is this PR operation? A skeptic might ponder the sheer perfection of this plot raises many more questions than answers…
It’s hard to know exactly how authentic protesters are online when they are all doing battle from behind a pseudonym. This is where the conversation gets tricky. It is just as easy for an agent provocateur to join in the legions of virtual ‘sock puppet’ anarchists, and ‘hacktivists’, as it is for a genuine dissenter to post a wild website. Examples of FBI and CIA infiltration into anonymous hacker communities like Anonymous and Lulzsec are now well-documented, most notably in the high-profile case this week of Jeremy Hammond (image, left) who was jailed for 10 years after unknowingly being managed by a hacker-turned federal informant.
The idea looks completely over-the-top on its face, almost as if the creator is intentionally over doing it. The names on the list appear to be hand picked for a reason. It’s not a conspiracy theorists top ten – there are no corporate robber barons, banking families and no nobility on the list – only government officials currently in office. If he was an artist, or if the idea was launched through a Hollywood in a film, then the concept would be lauded by the intelligentsia as genius, but because it’s out there floating like a pirate ship in the virtual harbor we call the internet – it will most likely be seized upon by our security-crazed government authorities as ‘a threat’.
Once its branded as such, you can guess what comes next: a call to ban Bitcoin.
The timing of this odd website cannot be ignored, right alongside the US Senate committee hearings on virtual currencies, just as the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is making its list on the ‘risks of Bitcoin for government and society at large’. Go figure.
It’s important to note that this isn’t the first such website of its kind, but the link to Bitcoin is what makes it a ‘prime time’ talking point ahead of Washington DC hearings.
The current kill list includes a US President, the head of the NSA, the President of Finland, but it’s man on top which makes us most suspicious of this digital anarchist’s controversial website.
The BBC reported on Tuesday, “Representatives from the Department of Justice and financial regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission have been asked to provide their views about virtual currencies to the committee and submissions have been received from the FBI and the US Federal Reserve.”
US Federal Reserve? Well, look who just happens to be at the top of this shady crowd-sourced ‘Assassination List’…
‘Assassination market’: Bernanke tops ‘kill-list’ in crowd-sourced bitcoin fundraiser for wannabe hitmen
A new site allows anyone to set bounties on the death of any individual and anonymously pay a hit man who fulfills the contract with digital currency bitcoin. Barack Obama, Ben Bernanke and the prime minister of Finland are already on the hit list.
“Killing is in most cases wrong, yes. However, as this is an inevitable direction in the technological evolution, I would rather see it in the hands of me than somebody else. By providing it cheaply and accurately I hope that more immoral alternatives won’t be profitable or trusted enough. This should primarily be a tool for retribution,” says the text of the Assassination Market, written by a man using the pseudonym Kuwabatake Sanjuro.
Users who log in have to simply place a name and a photograph, and send at least 1 bitcoin (just over $700 at the time of writing) through a trail-obscuring mechanism called a mixing service, which tangles up different people’s payments in the already nearly anonymous online currency.
It is not clear if the website is a political statement, an illegal enterprise or both (A screenshot from the Assassination Market)
The administrator then has to accept the candidate, before posting his name on the front page.
“When someone uses the law against you and/or infringes upon your negative rights to life, liberty, property, trade or the pursuit of happiness, you may now, in a safe manner from the comfort of your living room, lower their life-expectancy in return… Politicians, bureaucrats, regulators and lobbyists are accepted without question,” continues Sanjuro, named after Akira Kurosawa’s stoic but deadly samurai character.
The would-be assassin then contacts the administrator – who serves as an intermediary – and “predicts” the death of the target on a particular date. If this date is correct, once the target is dispatched, the administrator passes the money to the hitman, without the two ever having discovered each other’s identities, with Sanjuro keeping a commission of 1 percent.
Six names have been placed on the list in four months (A screenshot from The Assassination Market)
The highest bounty is currently on the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. 124 bitcoins translates to nearly $90,000. Bounties can come entirely from one person or be crowdfunded.
No one on the list of six people has been assassinated so far.
The concept of an assassination market was predicted by ‘cypherpunk’ ideologist Timothy C. May in his Crypto Anarchist Manifesto over two decades ago. This is not the first website to attempt to offer the service, though the efficacy of others is unknown.
It is, however, the first whose owner has so brazenly courted attention; Sanjuro personally contacted Forbes magazine to talk about his services. The self-proclaimed crypto-anarchist said that his motivation for setting up the site four months ago was as a backlash against government surveillance, as revealed by Edward Snowden earlier this year.
“Being forced to alter my every happy memory during internet activity, every intimate moment over the phone with my loved ones, to also include some of the people I hate the most listening in, analysing the conversation, was the inspiration I needed to embark on this task,” Sanjuro recounted in his online communication with the magazine.
Sanjuro went on to write that the website is set up in earnest, but without the intention to make money.
When questioned about whether assassinating public figures on a whim is fundamentally undemocratic, Sanjuro was defiant.
“Majority support does not make a leader legitimate any more than it made slavery legitimate. With this market the great equalising forces of capitalism have the opportunity to work in politics too. One bitcoin paid is one vote closer to a veto of whatever legislation you dislike.”
Forbes contacted security agencies, including the FBI, to ask if any measures are being taken to close down the site, which is currently easily found through Google, it received no comment. But Snowden’s revelations have shown to that the National Security Agency has dedicated considerable efforts to cracking internet “anonymizers” such as Tor, and bitcoin transactions themselves.
Sanjuro’s FAQ shows that he is aware of the imminent prospect of arrest.
“All the money will be confiscated by the state, and I will probably be killed or spend a considerable portion of my life in jail. Provided the system is a success, of course. Which I am hoping for.”
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