There are likely many people who hold critical information about crimes or criminal networks but refuse to come forward out of fear of retribution. xBounty, a new Ethereum-based startup that claims to be a “decentralized anonymous tipster,” may have a blockchain solution to this highly unique problem.
Crime Reports on the Blockchain
It seems that each day, novel and promising uses of blockchain technology are materializing. xBounty, however, seems to be the only one that is tied to law enforcement reporting per se. So how does it work?
According to the white paper, the platform will allow for “tipsters” or crime reporters to submit reports and evidence onto the xBounty blockchain completely anonymously. Law enforcement agencies or private organizations may put up rewards or bounties for information related to specific crimes. Then, presumably, if information is submitted that leads to an arrest or other desirable outcomes, a cryptocurrency reward will then be released from a smart contract.
For example, let’s imagine that a child goes missing. This is easily the worst nightmare of parents all across the world. Now let’s imagine that law enforcement in that area is either ill-equipped, overworked, or is otherwise just too ineffective to get anything done. The parents could potentially put up a valuable bounty on xBounty to encourage either people who know information or who can better help achieve a resolution to the case.
Not only would individuals be able to put up bounties, but presumably corporations or governments could do the same. For example, hypothetically the FBI could allow for anonymous cryptocurrency bounties to be placed on their “Most Wanted” criminals. This would allow for individuals to report the location of said wanted criminals without needing to reveal their own identity. They would also receive a fully anonymous payment as a reward.
Bounties could even be placed on cold cases from decades ago. For example, unsolved crimes such as murders may have new life breathed into them through a platform like xBounty. They may even lead to some cases being solved, once those with the right information feel safe to come forward with it.
While for some this may seem difficult to visualize, it is a revolutionary concept that could have a broad impact on the way people handle their interactions with law enforcement or other bounty placing organizations.
For those that provide information on the network, called tipsters, their tips will be rated between normal, silver, and golden. The higher value the tip, the larger the payout would be.
Once a submitted tip is verified to have been useful or otherwise correct, the reward will be released at a rate depending on the value of the tips provided. While the white paper does not state explicitly what would qualify as a golden tip, it’s safe to say that regarding a murder case, for instance, a tip that says the murderer drives a red car might be considered “normal.” One that says the murderer is named John Smith and lives at 123 Whatever St., would be a golden one.
Not the Only Bounty Project
While xBounty seems to be laser-focused on crime and criminal related reporting, there are other websites that use a similar bounty paradigm to encourage people to get things done. A good example of this is Bounty0x, a district0x application that also runs on Ethereum that went live last year.
Bounty0x is different in kind, though, as it focuses on such issues like software bug bounties and marketing bounties. It is conceivable however that a bounty could be placed on Bounty0x relating to wanting information regarding a crime. As for whether the platform would allow such a bounty to be placed is presently unknown.
XBounty was founded by Chuck Yang, who will also act as the CEO. He and three other co-founders will be leading up the team behind xBounty.
Before publishing this article, we made several attempts to make contact with the xBounty team for comment. However, we did not receive any replies by press time.
xBounty will be creating its own ERC-20 token. In total, there will be 88 million units available. The company will be performing an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) during which the majority of these tokens will be sold.
We do know that according to the project’s roadmap, the first version of the platform — known as Matroishka — is set to be launched sometime this year.
What do you think of xBounty’s idea for crime reporting? Will law enforcement agencies be willing to get involved, or will they be skeptical? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via The Week UK, El Reg