Thoughts on “A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto”, part 7


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 technologies do.

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 electronic money.

Two paragraphs today, as I believe they need to be taken together.

The main point of this paragraph is that, as discussed in the previous post, your privacy is not in the interest of other parties to grant to you. Passive waiting to get and keep it is not an option. Privacy is something to be defended, and while that may seem the passive option, it is not.

In order to maintain privacy, systems need to be in place to guarantee privacy.

Just like a castle is besieged needs to actively counteract sappers and siege engines lest its walls are torn down, we need to stay vigilant against intrusions (masked or otherwise) that undermine your privacy.

The Cypherpunks as a movement set themselves this goal, way back in the ’90s. Cryptography turned out to be a tool they could use. And hey, since you are probably here because you are interested in blockchains and cryptocurrencies, electronic money is in this part, too.

Bitcoin came straight out of this program: as a method to preserve your self-sovereignty and privacy (it turns out it didn’t succeed at that…yet!). It was not created to be the next Paypal, it has a completely different aim.

Bottom line: if you care about your privacy, it’s on you. On all of us. The manifesto goes into that topic in the closing paragraph, so if you want to know, just read ahead.

Bas Wisselink
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