Assassination market

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An assassination market 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. This would incentivise assassination of individuals because the assassin, knowing when the action would take place, could profit by making an accurate bet on the time of the subject's death. Because the payoff is for accurately picking the date rather than performing the action of the assassin, it is substantially more difficult to assign criminal liability for the assassination.[1]


A screenshot from the Tor Assassination Market of Ben Bernanke former chairman of the US Federal Reserve

Early uses of the terms "assassination market" and "market for assassinations" can be found (in both positive and negative lights) in 1994's "The Cyphernomicon"[2] by Timothy C. May, a cypherpunk. The concept and its potential effects are also referred to as assassination politics, a term popularized by Jim Bell in his 1995-96 essay of the same name.[3][4]

In part ten of his essay, Bell posits a market that is largely non-anonymous. He contrasts this version with the one previously described. Carl Johnson's attempt to popularise the concept of assassination politics appeared to rely on the earlier version.[5] There followed an attempt to popularise the second in 2001 that is ongoing today.[6][7] The feasibility of assassination markets as a tactic of radical civil-disobedience has been established.[citation needed]

Technologies like Tor and Bitcoin have enabled online assassination markets as described in parts one to nine of Assassination Politics. The first assassination market that adopted a Jim Bell protocol became available in autumn 2001.[citation needed] It remains a continuous project called APster, which is a name that was used quite often by various cypherpunks.[8]

The first prediction market entitled 'Assassination Market' was created by a self-described crypto-anarchist in 2013.[9] Utilising Tor to hide the site's location and Bitcoin based bounties and prediction technology, the site lists bounties on politicians such as Barack Obama and Ben Bernanke.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harkin, James (2009). Lost in Cyburbia: How Life on the Net Has Created a Life of Its Own. Knopf Canada. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-307-37398-4. 
  2. ^ May, Timothy C. (1994-09-10). "The Cyphernomicon: Cypherpunks FAQ and More, Version 0.666". pp. Sections 4 & 16. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ Bell, Jim (1997-04-03). "Assassination Politics" (PDF). Infowar. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 January 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ McCullagh, Declan (2000-04-14). "Crypto-Convict Won't Recant". Wired News. Retrieved January 14, 2008. 
  5. ^ Broiles, Greg (1999-08-27). "CJ files". Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  6. ^ McCullagh, Declan (2001-05-15). "Online Cincy Cop Threats Probed". Wired News. Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  7. ^ Hettinga, R. A. (2003-07-07). "Online threats target Denver investigators". Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ "VENONA Cypherpunks Archives". 1993–2000. Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  9. ^ Greenberg, Andy (2013-11-18). "Meet the 'Assassination Market' creator who's crowdfunding murder with Bitcoins". Forbes. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  10. ^ Bartlett, Jamie (22 July 2015). "Inside the Digital Underworld". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 

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