In international politics, the union of two thieves who have
their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pocket that they
cannot separately plunder a third.
Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
A COLLECTION OF CRYPTO-ASSOCIATED ARTICLES
THE CRYPTO ANARCHIST MANIFESTO
by Timothy C. May
A specter is haunting the modern world, the specter of crypto
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.
The technology for this revolution - and it surely will be both
a social and economic revolution - has existed in theory for the
past decade. The methods are based upon public-key encryption,
zero-knowledge interactive proof systems, and various software
protocols for interaction, authentication, and verification. The
focus has until now been on academic conferences in Europe and
the U.S., conferences monitored closely by the National Security
Agency. But only recently have computer networks and personal
computers attained sufficient speed to make the ideas practically
realizable. And the next ten years will bring enough additional
speed to make the ideas economically feasible and essentially
unstoppable. High-speed networks, ISDN, tamper-proof boxes, smart
cards, satellites, Ku-band transmitters, multi-MIPS personal
computers, and encryption chips now under development will be
some of the enabling technologies.
The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this
technology, citing national security concerns, use of the
technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal
disintegration. Many of these concerns will be valid; crypto
anarchy will allow national secrets to be trade freely and will
allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous
computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for
assassinations and extortion. Various criminal and foreign
elements will be active users of CryptoNet. But this will not
halt the spread of crypto anarchy.
Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power
of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will
cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of
corporations and of government interference in economic
transactions. Combined with emerging information markets, crypto
anarchy will create a liquid market for any and all material
which can be put into words and pictures. And just as a seemingly
minor invention like barbed wire made possible the fencing-off of
vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the concepts of
land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the
seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics
come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire
around intellectual property.
Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences!
A CYPHERPUNK'S MANIFESTO
by Eric Hughes
Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age.
Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one
doesn't want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is
something one doesn't want anybody to know. Privacy is the power
to selectively reveal oneself to the world.
If two parties have some sort of dealings, then each has a
memory of their interaction. Each party can speak about their
own memory of this; how could anyone prevent it? One could pass
laws against it, but the freedom of speech, even more than
privacy, is fundamental to an open society; we seek not to
restrict any speech at all. If many parties speak together in
the same forum, each can speak to all the others and aggregate
together knowledge about individuals and other parties. The
power of electronic communications has enabled such group speech,
and it will not go away merely because we might want it to.
Since we desire privacy, we must ensure that each party to a
transaction have knowledge only of that which is directly
necessary for that transaction. Since any information can be
spoken of, we must ensure that we reveal as little as possible.
In most cases personal identity is not salient. When I purchase a
magazine at a store and hand cash to the clerk, there is no need
to know who I am. When I ask my electronic mail provider to send
and receive messages, my provider need not know to whom I am
speaking or what I am saying or what others are saying to me; my
provider only need know how to get the message there and how much
I owe them in fees. When my identity is revealed by the
underlying mechanism of the transaction, I have no privacy. I
cannot here selectively reveal myself; I must _always_ reveal
Therefore, privacy in an open society requires anonymous
transaction systems. Until now, cash has been the primary such
system. An anonymous transaction system is not a secret
transaction system. An anonymous system empowers individuals to
reveal their identity when desired and only when desired; this is
the essence of privacy.
Privacy in an open society also requires cryptography. If I say
something, I want it heard only by those for whom I intend it.
If the content of my speech is available to the world, I have no
privacy. To encrypt is to indicate the desire for privacy, and
to encrypt with weak cryptography is to indicate not too much
desire for privacy. Furthermore, to reveal one's identity with
assurance when the default is anonymity requires the
We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large,
faceless organizations to grant us privacy out of their
beneficence. It is to their advantage to speak of us, and we
should expect that they will speak. To try to prevent their
speech is to fight against the realities of information.
Information does not just want to be free, it longs to be free.
Information expands to fill the available storage space.
Information is Rumor's younger, stronger cousin; Information is
fleeter of foot, has more eyes, knows more, and understands less
We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. We
must come together and create systems which allow anonymous
transactions to take place. People have been defending their own
privacy for centuries with whispers, darkness, envelopes, closed
doors, secret handshakes, and couriers. The technologies of the
past did not allow for strong privacy, but electronic
We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems.
We are defending our privacy with cryptography, with anonymous
mail forwarding systems, with digital signatures, and with
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 youdon'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.
For privacy to be widespread it must be part of a social
contract. People must come and together deploy these systems for
the common good. Privacy only extends so far as the cooperation
of one's fellows in society. We the Cypherpunks seek your
questions and your concerns and hope we may engage you so that we
do not deceive ourselves. We will not, however, be moved out of
our course because some may disagree with our goals.
The Cypherpunks are actively engaged in making the networks
safer for privacy. Let us proceed together apace.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.