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[For some odd reason, I'm only seeing Sandy's posts on this subject, not
those of Merriman, Barber, or Mays.]

>Patrick missed my irony.  Murders can't hurt any escrow's
>reputation.  To do so, they have to admit to being murderers who
>were stiffed by the escrow.  NOT BLOODY LIKELY.  For murder
>escrows, a positive reputation is meaningless.  They can't--nor
>can anyone else--risk exposure of such negative information.
>Escrows that admittedly engage in abetting criminal acts can have

That's just not true. Currently, many organizations--some known widely,
some shadowing, some essentially anonymous--count on their reputations for
being efficient, cold-blooded murderers as a means to scare off
competitors, increase their market value, etc. From Jamaican gangs who
execute the families of their targets to the CIA's Phoenix Program
operatives who mutilated their victims horribly, such "reps" are highly

To paraphrase Sandy, "BLOODY LIKELY."

Admitting to engaging in a criminal activity is not at issue--remember, all
parties are cryptographically protected and what they "admit" to doing
cannot reflect upon their physical/legal identities, only their digital

And those who contract for such services, via their pseudonyms, can "admit"
to wanting to buy such a service. (The issue of whether a well-respected
nym like "Locke" would want to publicize a failed hit on his arch-enemy
"Demosthenes" is a separate issue, which I won't conflate with this one.)

Gambling is illegal in most places, unless run by the state. And yet people
gamble, illegally. They use bookies. Bookies who are doing illegal things,
as the gamblers are. And yet if they get stiffed by a bookie, which
_sometimes_ happens, they tell their friends, family, etc., and the
reputation ripples spread.

Taking Sandy's "For murder escrows, a positive reputation is meaningless.
They can't--nor can anyone else--risk exposure of such negative
information. Escrows that admittedly engage in abetting criminal acts can
have NO MEANINGFUL REPUTATIONS." argument, are we to assume that this
applies to illegal betting? That stiffed bettors won't speak up because
there are "Escrows that admittedly engage in abetting criminal acts can

Crypto barely changes things, except to make outside interference less
likely. If, for example, Black Unicorn offers to transfer 100 Ghost Marks
to Pr0duct Cypher, for some C programming, and he doesn't feel he got his
money's worth, he can publicize it. Maybe we believe Black Unicorn, maybe
we don't. Maybe we ask to hear Pr0duct Cypher's side of the story. Maybe we
suggest that SOLONg act as a third party escrow agent. And so forth. Not
perfect, in some abstract sense of ultimate truth always coming out, but
reputations do indeed matter.

And whether the deeds contracted for are heinous or noble depends on your
point of view. To William Colby and the Viet Cong, the taking of ears and
other body parts by the Phoenix assassins was a fearsomely reputable thing
to do, regardless of what the 4H Club in Skokie might have thought about

If I contract with "Sandy's Salvage--You Pay, We Slay," I want to hear that
they've got some satisfied customers. (Yes, flooding of reputations is an
issue. Same issues as arise in DC Nets. Same kinds of solutions.)

Again, I've written too much, so I'll stop for now.

--Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^859433 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."