Two free-information-focused developers have released a piece of open-source software designed to let anyone get paid in bitcoin for leaking secret information either to the public or to a private buyer. The program, which they call PayPub, is still just an early prototype. But its creators say it has all the features necessary to facilitate a new model of anonymous, for-profit online leaking—or even to help spark a decentralized black market in secret information.
"I've wanted for a while to make a marketplace where people can leak information and others can pay for those leaks," says PayPub's co-creator Amir Taaki, who has gained notoriety for his work on other radically anarchist bitcoin projects. "Leakers are taking a risk, and they should be rewarded."
Taaki and his partner on the project, Peter Todd, say they've been inspired by the revelations of WikiLeaks and Snowden. They see a chance to fuel those sorts of megaleaks with financial incentives–a kind of bitcoin Kickstarter for leakers. "When you add a monetary component, you can get data from people who don't want to pull a Snowden for nothing," says Todd, a bitcoin consultant and adviser to several startups. "This can be a powerful motivator."The next secret-spiller might be motivated instead by something less magnanimous: money.