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                         SANDY SANDFORT
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Tim May writes with regard to anonymous contract killers:

    ... And the risk of losing the digital cash can be made
    vanishingly small by use of anonymous escrow services,
    which act solely as holders of the digital cash....

I don't buy it.  Anonymous digital assassins, murder escrows and
all that work fine in an artificial, abstract, game-theory world.
I doubt we'll see much--if any--of it in the Real World.  Why?
Because the market is too richly textured not to come up with its
own cultural, ethical and digital fixes.

Would you do business with a escrow that was the bag man for
contract murders?  I wouldn't, you wouldn't and the vast majority
of people in the world wouldn't.  That wouldn't stop some escrows
from performing that service, but it would run up the cost.  When
the costs rise high enough, profitable opportunities are created
for false escrows to enter the business.  That's just one problem
that can interfere with such an odious endeavor; there are more.

I think the best way to illustrate that the anonymous murder
business is nothing more than a bugaboo, is to set the best minds
on the planet--Cypherpunks--to work on the problem.  Let's all
put our thinking caps on, and come up with answers to the follow
hypothetical situation:

Let us assume a world with totally anonymous communications and
payments (strong crypto, remailers, digital cash, etc.).

1)  How would YOU scam money from the system without actually
    knocking anyone off?  Or in the alternative,

2)  How would YOU use technology to address the problem from
    police/private investigator perspective?

I'm betting that with no more than a few moments of thought,
Cypherpunks will come up with a ton of hacks.  To get the ball
rolling, here are two from me:


I set up a meat-and-potatoes escrow business.  I keep my nose
clean.  I honor my obligations.  I build up a good reputation.
At some point, I'll be approached by a murderer and the person
who is hiring him or her.  I'll accept the payment.  When the
murder is committed, I won't pay off.  The murderer will (a) sue
me (I don't think so), (b) damage my reputation (I'll leave this
one as an exercise for the student), or (c) murder *me* (ah, but
first he has to find me; in the world we posit, that won't be
very easy).  If this scenario happens very often, it'll take all
the profit out of the murder business.  Of course, the murderer
can get the money face-to-face from the customer, but then we're
back to today's square one.


I set up a phoney murder-for-hire business.  Someone contracts
with me to bump-off their rich uncle.  The client deposits my
payment with a reputable escrow company, "Murder Escrows R Us." I
go to the uncle and tell him the whole deal.  Using digital
technology, bribed coroners, etc., we fake his death.  When the
news hits the Net, the escrow pays me off.  The uncle comes back
to life, disinherits whomever he suspects wanted him dead.  And I
laugh all the way to the digital bank.  I create a new pseudonym,
place another murder-for-hire ad, and do it all again.  Given our
Brave New World, nobody can touch me.

Okay C'punks, it's your turn.  How would you subvert Tim May's
vision of anonymous murder-for-hire for fun and profit?  (Feel
free to take potshots at my two scenarios as well.  Cypherpunk
cleverness cuts both ways, I'm sure.)

 S a n d y