Crowdfunding is the practice of individuals pooling money, usually via the internet, to accomplish a common goal. We’ve seen it used to create political ads, attempt to buy the Rob Ford crack smoking video, for various charitable projects and more. Now, crowdfunding has taken a darker turn.
Since the arrest of the Silk Road online drug marketplace owner, Ross Ulbricht, (or The Dread Pirate Roberts as he is better known), many have become familiar with Bitcoins. Bitcoins are a virtual currency that is kept in an online “wallet.” Most importantly for this venture, and previously for Silk Road, Bitcoins are untraceable.
Bitcoins, while they do have more legitimate uses, are often used to trade illicit goods such as stolen credit cards, drugs, weapons, fake I.D.s, and even child porn in the seedy underbelly of the internet that is the “Deep Web.”
While most “deep web” content (content that does not show up in searches) can be viewed as accidental leavings, some communities have erupted, hidden in the proverbial shadows. These “Dark Nets” are where most of the “action” can be found. For example Onion Land, named for the Tor (The Onion Router) browser (which is required to view .onion pages), is the home of the now-defunct Silk Road marketplace.
The philosophical view of the Dark Net community is a noble one: Anonymity and complete freedom of speech, away from the legal constraints of society. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily play out well in practice.
The result is an open market for not only drugs, but an open market for contract killing, paid hacking services, weapon sales and (as seen below) a centralized hub for child pornography enthusiasts.
Please note the word “Hurtcore.”
Think it’s bad? While it is nigh-impossible to get any worse than pedo-heaven, the Dark Net has taken a frightening new turn. Bitcoins, it seems, have found another use in crowd-funded political assassinations.
Recently, Andy Greenberg of Forbes received an encrypted e-mail from someone calling himself Kuwabatake Sanjuro. While murder-for-hire is not a new thing in Onion Land, Sanjuro’s creation is the first to focus on Gofundme-style assassinations of political leaders. The Assassination Market is pretty straightforward: Like any crowd-funding site, anyone can contribute Bitcoins toward a bounty on the head of any government official. If someone is killed, the funds are disbursed to the person who proves he/she did it.
Prospective killers are asked to create a text file with the date of the target’s death, encrypt the date, and then donate that amount to the target’s page. After the murder, the text file is to be sent to Sanjuro as proof. If it proves legitimate, that person is paid (Sanjuro keeps 1% of the bounty).
The Assassination Market has been online for four months and six targets have been submitted thus far. The values range, according to Forbes, from 10 Bitcoins for the murder of NSA director Keith Alexander, to 40 Bitcoins for the death of Barack Obama. Users really hate Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, though! The price on his head is 124.12 Bitcoins, or roughly $75,000–the highest on the site.
Sanjuro’s goal extends well beyond a few political killings, though! He wants the Assassination Market to grow and expand. He dreams of a world in which the rivers of the world to run so red with the blood of political leaders that no one would dare hold office. He says he intends to destroy “all governments, everywhere.”
As do all lunatics, Sanjuro believes his goal to be a noble one, as he tells Forbes:
“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 out grasp but for 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.”
When asked if this could be viewed as an attempt to cripple democracy, Sanjuro offered Forbes a reply with which we here at AATTP are very familiar:
“Of course. Limiting democracy is why we have a Constitution…”