Reading a lot about privacy and anonymity and cryptography and cryptocurrency and Darknet hidden services and Tor lately. Something that has caught my attention is the Cypherpunk movement, and their manifestos.
The earliest one seems to be The Crypto Anarchist’s Manifesto, written by Timothy C May in 1988. Here’s a link to it. Written thirty years ago, but very of the moment even now. Read how it opens:
Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages, conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal identity, of the other. Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re-routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.
“A cypherpunk’s manifesto” by Eric Hughes, is also very relevant, even though it is 26 years old. Here’s a bit:
Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can’t get privacy unless we all do, we’re going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.
Cypherpunks deplore regulations on cryptography, for encryption is fundamentally a private act. The act of encryption, in fact, removes information from the public realm. Even laws against cryptography reach only so far as a nation’s border and the arm of its violence. Cryptography will ineluctably spread over the whole globe, and with it the anonymous transactions systems that it makes possible.
This is stuff that could have been written yesterday. The technologies required for true anonymity have broken out fairly recently: encryption, cryptocurrency, all this has come to a head now. If we don’t seize this opportunity, maybe we don’t deserve it.