If you think buying crystal meth online is as bad as the “deep Web” gets, think again. The latest hidden Internet marketplace could be a nightmare for world leaders, or anyone else who happens to make someone angry enough to want them dead – if it’s not just a scam.
Called Assassination Market, the Kickstarter-like website allows users to crowdfund murders through donations of Bitcoin, the anonymous digital currency. The site, which has been up for just four months and is only accessible through the Tor network, currently lists a total of six bounties, all of which target various government officials.
Both Jyrki Tapani Katainen, prime minister of Finland, and French President François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande appear on the list, with ฿1.00 bounties on their heads – or about $645, at current Bitcoin exchange rates. U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper currently has a bid of ฿1.97, while the price on NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander jumps to ฿10.49. The bounties bound to ฿40.26 for President Barack Obama. But it is outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke whom Assassination Market users have pledged the most to see killed – a bounty of ฿124.14, or about $80,000.
Speaking under the pseudonym Kuwabatake Sanjuro, Assassination Market’s alleged founder says that he believes, given enough popularity, that his site could lead to enough murdered politicians that no one would dare hold office.
“I believe it will change the world for the better,” he said.
The idea of an anonymous online murder-for-hire system has long been the talk among cypherpunks. As the Daily Dot reports, Assassination Market is only one site on the “deep Web” that markets hitmen. So far, there have been no public reports of these sites leading to anyone’s demise. In fact, many of them could easily be used to scam disgruntled people out of their Bitcoins.
In a bit of related news, Ben Bernanke sent a letter to Congress on Monday in which he says that Bitcoin “may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system.” Maybe seeing his name on a hit list will change his tune.
Correction: An earlier version misidentified Jyrki Tapani Katainen as the president of Finland. He is, in fact, the prime minister. We apologize for the error.