4. Goals and Ideology -- Privacy, Freedom, New Approaches


THE CYPHERNOMICON: Cypherpunks FAQ and More, Version 0.666, 1994-09-10, Copyright Timothy C. May. All rights reserved. See the detailed disclaimer. Use short sections under "fair use" provisions, with appropriate credit, but don't put your name on my words.

4.2. SUMMARY: Goals and Ideology -- Privacy, Freedom, New Approaches

4.2.1. Main Points

4.2.2. Connections to Other Sections

4.2.3. Where to Find Additional Information

4.2.4. Miscellaneous Comments

4.3. Why a Statement of Ideology?

4.3.1. This is perhaps a controversial area.

So why include it? The main reason is to provide some grounding for the later comments on many issues.

4.3.2. People should not expect a uniform ideology on this list.

Some of us are anarcho-capitalist radicals (or "crypto anarchists"), others of us are staid Republicans, and still others are Wobblies and other assored leftists.

4.4. "Welcome to Cypherpunks"

4.4.1. This is the message each new subscriber to the Cypherpunks lists gets

, by Eric Hughes:

4.4.2. "Cypherpunks assume privacy is a good thing

and wish there were more of it. Cypherpunks acknowledge that those who want privacy must create it for themselves and not expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant them privacy out of beneficence. Cypherpunks know that people have been creating their own privacy for centuries with whispers, envelopes, closed doors, and couriers. Cypherpunks do not seek to prevent other people from speaking about their experiences or their opinions. "The most important means to the defense of privacy is encryption. To encrypt is to indicate the desire for privacy. But to encrypt with weak cryptography is to indicate not too much desire for privacy. Cypherpunks hope that all people desiring privacy will learn how best to defend it. "Cypherpunks are therefore devoted to cryptography. Cypherpunks wish to learn about it, to teach it, to implement it, and to make more of it. Cypherpunks know that cryptographic protocols make social structures. Cypherpunks know how to attack a system and how to defend it. Cypherpunks know just how hard it is to make good cryptosystems. "Cypherpunks love to practice. They love to play with public key cryptography. They love to play with anonymous and pseudonymous mail forwarding and delivery. They love to play with DC-nets. They love to play with secure communications of all kinds. "Cypherpunks write code. They know that someone has to write code to defend privacy, and since it's their privacy, they're going to write it. Cypherpunks publish their code so that their fellow cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Cypherpunks realize that security is not built in a day and are patient with incremental progress. "Cypherpunks don't care if you don't like the software they write. Cypherpunks know that software can't be destroyed. Cypherpunks know that a widely dispersed system can't be shut down. "Cypherpunks will make the networks safe for privacy." [Eric Hughes, 1993-07-21 version]

4.5. "Cypherpunks Write Code"

4.5.1. "Cypherpunks write code" is almost our mantra.

4.5.2. This has come to be a defining statement.

Eric Hughes used it to mean that Cypherpunks place more importance in actually changing things, in actually getting working code out, than in merely talking about how things "ought" to be.

4.5.3. "The admonition, "Cypherpunks write code," should be taken metaphorically.

I think "to write code" means to take unilateral effective action as an individual. That may mean writing actual code, but it could also mean dumpster diving at Mycrotronx and anonymously releasing the recovered information. It could also mean creating an offshore digital bank. Don't get too literal on us here. What is important is that Cypherpunks take personal responsibility for empowering themselves against threats to privacy." [Sandy Sandfort, 1994-07-08]

4.5.4. A Cypherpunks outlook: taking the abstractions of academic conferences and making them concrete

4.5.5. Prototypes, even if fatally flawed, allow for evolutionary learning and improvement. Think of it as engineering in action.

4.6. Technological empowerment

4.6.1. (more needed here...)

4.6.2. As Sandy Sandfort notes, "The real point of Cypherpunks is that it's better to use strong crypto than weak crypto or no crypto at all.

Our use of crypto doesn't have to be totally bullet proof to be of value. Let them worry about the technicalities while we make sure they have to work harder and pay more for our encrypted info than they would if it were in plaintext." [S.S. 1994-07-01]

4.7. Free Speech Issues

4.7.1. Speech

4.7.2. "Should there be any limits whatsoever on a person's use of cryptography?"

4.7.3. Democracy and censorship

4.8. Privacy Issues

4.8.1. "Is there an agenda here beyond just ensuring privacy?"

4.8.2. "What is the American attitude toward privacy and encryption?"

4.8.3. "How is 1994 like 1984?"

4.8.4. "We anticipate that computer networks will play a more and more important role in many parts of our lives.

But this increased computerization brings tremendous dangers for infringing privacy. Cypherpunks seek to put into place structures which will allow people to preserve their privacy if they choose. No one will be forced to use pseudonyms or post anonymously. But it should be a matter of choice how much information a person chooses to reveal about himself when he communicates. Right now, the nets don't give you that much choice. We are trying to give this power to people." [Hal Finney, 1993-02-23]

4.8.5. "If cypherpunks contribute nothing else we can create a real privacy advocacy group,

advocating means of real selfempowerment, from crypto to nom de guerre credit cards, instead of advocating further invasions of our privacy as the so-called privacy advocates are now doing!" [Jim Hart, 199409-08]

4.9. Education Issues

4.9.1. "How can we get more people to use crypto?"

4.9.2. "Who needs to encrypt?"

4.9.3. "When should crypto be used?"

4.10. Libertarian Issues

4.10.1. A technological approach to freedom and privacy:

4.10.2. "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

[Benjamin Franklin]

4.10.3. a typical view of government

4.10.4. Sadly, several of our speculative scenarios for various laws have come to pass. Even several of my own, such as:

4.10.5. "Don't tread on me."

4.10.6. However, it's easy to get too negative on the situation,

to assume that a socialist state is right around the corner. Or that a new Hitler will come to power. These are unlikely developments, and not only because of strong crypto. Financial markets are putting constraints on how fascist a government can get...the international bond markets, for example, will quickly react to signs like this. (This is the theory, at least.)

4.10.7. Locality of reference, cash, TANSTAAFL, privacy

4.11. Crypto Anarchy

4.11.1. The Crypto Anarchy Principle:

Strong crypto permits unbreakable encrypion, unforgeable signatures, untraceable electronic messages, and unlinkable pseudonomous identities. This ensures that some transactions and communications can be entered into only voluntarily. External force, law, and regulation cannot be applied. This is "anarchy," in the sense of no outside rulers and laws. Voluntary arrangements, backstopped by voluntarily-arranged institutions like escrow services, will be the only form of rule. This is "crypto anarchy."

4.11.2. crypto allows a return to contracts that governments cannot breach

4.11.3. Technological solutions over legalistic regulations

4.11.4. Reputations

4.11.5. I have a moral outlook

that many will find unacceptable or repugnant. To cut to the chase: I support the killing of those who break contracts, who steal in serious enough ways, and who otherwise commit what I think of as crimes.

4.11.6. Increased espionage

will help to destroy nation-state-empires like the U.S., which has gotten far too bloated and far too dependent on throwing its weight around; nuclear "terrorism" may knock out a few cities, but this may be a small price to pay to undermine totally the socialist welfare states that have launched so many wars this century.

4.12. Loose Ends

4.12.1. "Why take a "no compromise" stance?"

4.12.2. The inherent evils of democracy

4.12.3. "Is the Cypherpunks agenda too extreme?"

4.12.4. "Crypto Anarchy sounds too wild for me."


Revision #1
Created 23 June 2022 03:41:33 by c0mmando
Updated 23 June 2022 03:41:58 by c0mmando