Cypherpunks of the world,
At the meeting of 'Physical Cypherpunks', held yesterday in Silicon Valley, many of you asked me to make more content of the material that we have approved in our meetings available electronically, so that it can be accessible and read in full throughout the entire list of Cypherpunks, spies, curious and anyone who wants.
Here is the "Crypto Anarchist Manifesto" that I read in September 1992 at the founding meeting. Its origins date back to mid-1988, when it was distributed to some like-minded techno-anarchists at the "Crypto '88" conference and again at the "Hackers Conference" that year. I later gave talks about this in 'Hackers' in 1989 and 1990.
There are some things I would like to change, but for historical reasons I am going to leave it as it is. Some of the terms may be unfamiliar to you ... I hope the Crypto Glossary that I just distributed is helpful.
(This should explain all the crypto terms that are in my signature)
The cryptanarchist manifesto
A spectrum is emerging in the modern world, the spectrum of crypto anarchy.
Computing is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other completely anonymously. Two people can exchange messages, do business and negotiate electronic contracts, never knowing the Authentic Name, or the legal identity, of the other. Network interactions will be intractable, thanks to the widespread use of re-routing of encrypted packets on tamper-proof machines that implement cryptographic protocols with near-perfect guarantees against any tampering attempts. Reputations will be of crucial importance, far more important in deals than today's credit ratings. These developments will completely alter the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and even alter the nature of trust and reputation.
The technology for this revolution (and it will surely be a social and economic revolution) has existed in theory for the past decade. The methods are based on public key encryption, interactive zero-knowledge testing systems, and various software protocols for interaction, authentication, and verification. The focus so far has been on academic conferences in Europe and the US, conferences closely monitored by the National Security Agency. But only recently have computer networks and personal computers become fast enough to make ideas workable. And the next 10 years will bring enough additional speed to make these ideas financially feasible and, in essence, unstoppable. High-speed networks, ISDN, 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, attempt to delay or stop the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, the use of this technology by drug traffickers and tax evaders, and fears of social disintegration. Any of these concerns will be valid; Cryptanarchy will allow the free commercialization of national secrets and the commercialization of illicit and stolen materials. An anonymous computerized marketplace will even allow the establishment of horrible murder and extortion markets. Various criminal and foreign elements will be active users of the CryptoNet. But this will not stop the spread of crypto anarchy.
Just as printing technology altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the structure of social power, so cryptological methods will alter the nature of corporations and government interference in economic transactions. Crypto anarchy, combined with emerging information markets, will create a liquid market for any material that can be put into words and images. And just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made it possible to enclose large ranches and farms, thus forever altering concepts of land and property rights at the borders of the West, so too the seemingly minor discovery From an arcane branch of mathematics it will become the pliers that dismantle the barbed wire around the intellectual property.
Get up, you have nothing to lose except your own barbed wire fences!
Timothy C. May
WASTE: Aptos, CA
Higher Power: 2 ^ 756839
encryption, digital money, anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero knowledge, reputations, information markets, black markets, collapse of governments.
PGP Public Key: by arrangement.