1997-06-11 - Re: Untraceable Contract Killings

Header Data

From: Wei Dai <weidai@eskimo.com>
To: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Message Hash: d9c76b7ac28d3d8fffbd74953a5e899fd15b6602bac8e724df718ffdf8781c59
Message ID: <Pine.SUN.3.96.970610172007.1148G-100000@eskimo.com>
Reply To: <v03102818afc32f6b5b30@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-11 00:57:11 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 08:57:11 +0800

Raw message

From: Wei Dai <weidai@eskimo.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 08:57:11 +0800
To: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Subject: Re: Untraceable Contract Killings
In-Reply-To: <v03102818afc32f6b5b30@[]>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.96.970610172007.1148G-100000@eskimo.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Tue, 10 Jun 1997, Tim May wrote:

> By the way, this is not really Bell's "assassination politics," this is
> just anonymous contract killings, known about to some of us since Chaum's
> work was first published...cf. my own "Crypto Anarchist Manifesto," 1988.
> I may sound touchy on this issue, but I'm seeing more and more articles
> here and relayed from outside essentially giving Bell the credit for
> inventing these kinds of markets, when in fact he's a relative latecomer.

I think the novelty of Bell's scheme is that it allows assassination
payments to be pooled from a large number of anonymous payers without
explicit coordination (i.e., the payers do not have to communicate with
each other to work out a contract, etc.).  For killing a neighbor it
doesn't improve upon the simple untraceable contract, but it can make a
big difference when the target has many enemies (Bell gave politicians as
an example).

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".