Ver, who was the target of a much publicized hack in May, already has firsthand experience with bounties. When the hacker, known as Nitrous (among other handles), demanded a 37 BTC ransom to return access to Ver’s accounts, Ver responded by publicly announcing a 37 BTC bounty for his arrest. Nitrous immediately backed down, returning access to Ver’s accounts. Nitrous is also the lead suspect in the seemingly failed attempt to “dox” bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto earlier this month.
In the video announcing BitcoinBountyHunter.com, Ver said: “Thanks to Bitcoin, now, for the first time ever, anyone across the globe can privately contribute funds to individual bounties that will directly motivate law enforcement agencies to arrest perpetrators of crimes that people actually care about. People with information about the crimes can now anonymously provide law enforcement with that information, and then anonymously collect the bounty.”
Ver said that the system would also allow law enforcement officers to “directly and anonymously collect bounties for actually doing their jobs.” Most law enforcement agencies do not allow officers to collect bounties within their jurisdictions, as it creates serious conflict-of-interest and liability issues. Ver, a noted critic of government law enforcement agencies, is hoping that the bitcoin’s pseudo-anonymous payment system will encourage police and other investigators to make solving these crimes a priority. In addition, Ver claimed that a “completely decentralized, trustless system” for the bounties was on the horizon, removing the need for a “central organizer.”
While Ver’s site does hold promise as a tool for putting pressure back on the increasing number of bitcoin hackers, it also opens a huge can of worms for law enforcement and regulatory agencies. At the moment, however, BitcoinBountyHunter.com is fairly focused, with only three bounties published: The Ver/Nakamoto hacker, the Mt.Gox thief and the Bitcoinica thief.