New Bitcoin Service Could Be The Next WikiLeaks…Or Just Another Creepy Marketplace

January 7, 2015 | Peter Yeh

If news of Snowden’s exile or Chelsea Manning’s arrest has you too spooked to run away with that CD of government secrets you cunningly labeled “Ke$ha Mix,” then get hyped for Slur. Developers claim that Slur is an open source, decentralized, anonymous bitcoin market for the express purpose of selling secrets. From the site:

Slur is an open source, decentralized and anonymous marketplace for the selling of secret information in exchange for bitcoin. Slur is written in C and operates over the Tor network with bitcoin transactions through libbitcoin. Both buyers and sellers are fully anonymous and there are no restrictions on the data that is auctioned. There is no charge to buy or sell on the Slur marketplace except in the case of a dispute, where a token sum is paid to volunteers.

Participants can bid alone or in groups to get at the decryption key for the data. The money goes into escrow until the winning bidder is satisfied. Disputes would be settled by five schmucks who will be given a decryption key so they can confirm that it’s what bidders paid for.

The idea is that by offering a monetary incentive, and by being anonymous, leakers will offer data more frequently and that governments, corporations, and other large entities will get bogged down, wasting money to buy leaks. But bitcoin is also associated with seedy activities, including a wave of “ransomware” that resulted in one Tennessee Sheriff’s office having to pay $500 in bitcoin to recover its own files. Slur could descend into blackmail — its own features list explicitly mentions selling “unflattering celebrity photos.” And we know that anonymous communities on the internet gather creeps easily — like that time Redditors valiantly came to the defense of the child porn subreddit under the aegis of “free speech.”

So will Slur be the next Wikileaks, or just a hideout for weirdos with bitcoin? We’ll find out sometime after April, when Slur.io allegedly goes beta.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)