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 knowing the date rather than performing the action of the assassin, it is substantially more difficult to assign criminal liability for the assassination.
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" 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.
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. There followed an attempt to popularise the second in 2001 that is ongoing today. The feasibility of assassination markets as a tactic of radical civil-disobedience has been established.
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. It remains a continuous project called APster, which is a name that was used quite often by various cypherpunks.
The first prediction market entitled 'Assassination Market' was created by a self-described crypto-anarchist in 2013. 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.
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- Jim Bell's Assassination Politics essay at the Internet Archive (Mirror)
- The Usenet discussion containing the initial publication of the first part of Assassination Politics at Google Groups
- Academic discussion of assassination markets from an anarchist perspective at the Internet Archive