1997-06-13 - Re: Untraceable Contract Killings

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From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Message Hash: 4c4515434645794fd049bd057e0fd268733022ace4ecf4ec639a2930b8aeb41c
Message ID: <v03102808afc730fed9b6@[]>
Reply To: <Pine.SUN.3.96.970610172007.1148G-100000@eskimo.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-13 17:37:29 UTC
Raw Date: Sat, 14 Jun 1997 01:37:29 +0800

Raw message

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 1997 01:37:29 +0800
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Subject: Re: Untraceable Contract Killings
In-Reply-To: <Pine.SUN.3.96.970610172007.1148G-100000@eskimo.com>
Message-ID: <v03102808afc730fed9b6@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 9:51 AM -0700 6/11/97, Bill Stewart wrote:

>really does pay off the killer.  What's novel about Bell's version
>(and I don't know whether it originate with him or not) is that
>it provides a cyberspace-only mechanism for the assassin to
>demonstrate to the payer that he's the one who did the job
>and isn't some wannabe claiming to have done it to collect the cash.
>	(like the wannabes who called newspapers claiming to
>	have been the World Trade Center bombers, etc.)

What really creates a "hit" on the efficiency of Bell's system, as I
understand it, is that the guy who plans to make the hit may plan to do it
on, for example, June 21. This is the date he bets on heavily.

Alas, someone else does the hit on June19th, or 15th, or whatever. (There
are all those dates, distributed on some curve,  implying others are
thinking making the hit, too.)

Or, his target stays indoors all that day. (Possibly by looking at the
betting data!)

There are lots of "noise sources" in such a probabalistic scheme of
sidebets based on outcomes which not even a skilled assassin can control.

>There are alternatives, like posting a photo of the corpse to
>a time-stamping service and then to Usenet, though this adds
>some risk to the assassination, and is less useful for
>public killings (e.g. if the President gets shot,
>and there's a well-known address for the assassination pool,
>the White House Press Corps may try to get their photographs
>into the pool before sending them to Reuters and, umm, AP.)

The "proof" issue has been discussed at various times over the past several
years. This is a matter for the contract negotiations (so to speak). The
purchaser of a hit may specify to the escrow agent that the untraceable
funds are to be anonymously mailed (using message pools, for example) only
if a Quicktime movie of the hit actually happening are submitted. (It would
be fairly trivial to attach a small camcorder to a riflescope, for example,
showing the target being killed by a sniper. Other similar options,
essentially impossible to spoof by pretenders, are quite easy to imagine.
Depends on the method of hitting, of course.)

>The assassin still has to make sure he gets paid, and Bell suggests
>(incorrectly, I think) that since all the payer is doing is
>running a lottery, not contracting for killings, that the payer
>could be a persistent entity with some reputation capital
>who has an incentive to pay off.

As has also been discussed for almost 10 years now, third-party anonymous
escrow agents, whose business is only the holding of funds for release
under conditions they judge to have been met, is an elegant and robust

>>Now in light of the fact that when the target has many enemies the
>>assassination becomes a non-excludable public good, it is almost certain
>>that the scheme cannot actually work in practice.  All of the potential
>>payers would rather free-ride and let others pay, so the public good ends
>>up not being "produced".
>I think Bell is imagining that a lot of people would be willing to
>pay $5 for killing high-profile targets, like a few IRS agents,
>so this wouldn't be a problem for the targets _he_ wants killed off.
>Getting people to chip in large amounts of money is tougher.

And it is far, far likelier that someone will use untraceable mechanisms
(cash, markets, escrow) to have an enemy whacked than that a cumbersome,
probabalisitic, highly-publicized market will develop.

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."