A new black market for secrets that rewards informants with bitcoin has been announced this week.
Darkleaks, masterminded by members of crypto-anarchist collective unSystem, will let users sell leaked data in an anonymous, trustless environment powered by bitcoin's blockchain.
Amir Taaki, the project's systems developer, told CoinDesk that platforms like this provide a financial incentive for insiders to reveal information in the public interest, thereby "devaluing business models based around proprietary secrecy".
History of radical schemes
The unSystem team has divided opinion with radical projects like the anonymous Dark Wallet, due for release soon, and Dark Market, a P2P eBay-style platform designed to run outside government control.
Darkleaks, which Taaki said has been in development "on and off for many months", builds on another proof-of-concept from his team, PayPub, revealed last May.
Unlike Silk Road's moderated marketplace model, which has proved vulnerable to law enforcement, there are no third parties on Darkleaks who can weigh in on disagreements between sellers and buyers. In fact, buyers and sellers cannot communicate at all.
Instead, Darkleaks uses the technology behind bitcoin to encrypt and store files on the marketplace.
The site explains:
"The software uses bitcoin’s blockchain to encrypt files which are released when payment is claimed by the leaker. Files are split into segments and encrypted. These segments are unlocked only when the leaker reveals the key by claiming his bitcoins."
To prevent disputes, several of each leaker's file segments are released at random, via a provably fair cryptographic system, on a specified date. This way, potential buyers are able to authenticate and value the leaker's document before making a payment.
'No limits' on content
Darkleaks, as with unSystem's other tools, is "all about communication, knowledge and economy," Taaki said.
However, as the project's page makes clear, there really are no limits on the type of information on sale. Users can monetise everything from evidence of tax evasion or corruption, to more morally ambiguous items, including stolen databases and naked pictures of A-list celebrities.
It might be in a legal grey area, but the team maintain the platform is, above all else, ethical.
While it has likely caught the attention of law enforcement, Taaki said the team has not yet received any formal notice from the authorities. "Seems like they're happy with our work, otherwise they've had plenty of excuses to try and make moves," he added.
Currently, Darkleaks' open-source software is in alpha, with code available to view on the project's GitHub page.
Taaki said he hopes to encourage other developers to build on the project's foundations and bring the secrets-for-bitcoin model to life:
"I think the idea is widely applicable, so I hope by putting this out there with Python bindings that the community starts to use this concept in novel and interesting ways."
Darkleaks , masterminded by members of crypto-anarchist collective unSystem , will let users sell leaked data in an anonymous, trustless environment powered by bitcoin’s blockchain.
Amir Taaki, the project’s systems developer, told CoinDesk that platforms like this provide a financial incentive for insiders to reveal information in the public interest, thereby "devaluing business models based around proprietary secrecy". History of radical schemes The unSystem […]