CoinTelegraph recently learned that the United States military is considering using Bitcoin tipping as a platform for providing bounties in combat and terrorist hot zones. The relative anonymity that the blockchain provides and the cost-cutting nature of crowdsourcing are the driving forces behind the scheme.
Earlier this year, in February, the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) released the Advance Planning Briefing for Industry (APBI), which forecasted its funding requirements for Fiscal Year 2016 and advertised solicitations, or government "bids," using a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).
Bid R3962 contained a solicitation for the Irregular Warfare and Evolving Threats (IW/ET) group. The bid was entitled "Micropayment-Enabled Gamified Civil Reporting In Conflict Zones" and states that the CTTSO is looking for someone to:
"Develop an operational concept and application that enables civilians in conflict zones or at-risk areas to be rewarded in near real-time with 'tip-sized' amounts of virtual currencies, or other stores of value."
While the announcement makes no mention of Bitcoin, it does mention the blockchain, which is the worldwide immutable public ledger that Bitcoin utilizes. The announcement says:
"The current approach [of paying sources for information] is costly and labor intensive to manage. It fails to realize the potential to dramatically increase the volume and precision of reporting possible through crowdsourcing applications, particularly when they are combined with 'rewards' owing to the breakthrough in payment processing afforded by blockchain technology."
CTTSO is taking a cue from Amazon's Mechanical Turk human marketplace, which posts bounties for Human Intelligence Tasks or HITs. As NPR recently explained:
"People around the world race to perform those tasks, sometimes for pennies, [...] 'street-level' community information [...] - for cents rather than thousands of dollars."
For instance, right now there are approximately US$362 million dollars worth of bounties listed at the Department of State's Rewards for Justice program. According to reporting by Kathy Gilsinan for the Atlantic, bounty values are determined by the Secretary of State based on the "perceived threat a given terrorist poses to U.S. people or property."