One of the first extended presentations of the theory and practice of Crypto Anarchism,
Crypto Anarchy and Virtual Communities emerged out of the Bay Area cypherpunks community, and argues for the revolutionary potential for the radical application of emerging technologies to by-pass channels of state surveillance, political control and social domination. The essay is of both historical interest and also ever-growing contemporary significance, whether to cypherpunks, hacktivists, counter-economists, direct-action security culture, or people working to build counter-institutions, dual-power and an alternative economy.
The combination of strong, unbreakable public key cryptography and virtual network communities in cyberspace will produce interesting and profound changes in the nature of economic and social systems. Crypto anarchy is the cyberspatial realization of [anarchism], transcending national boundaries and freeing individuals to make the economic arrangements they wish to make consensually.
Strong cryptography, exemplified by RSA (a public key algorithm) and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), provides encryption that essentially cannot be broken with all the computing power in the universe. This ensures security and privacy. Public key cryptography is rightly considered to be a revolution.
… Governments see their powers eroded by these technologies, and are taking various well-known steps to try to limit the use of strong crypto by their subjects. The U.S. has several well-publicized efforts, including the Clipper chip, the Digital Telephony wiretap law, and proposals for “voluntary” escrow of cryptographic keys. Cypherpunks and others expect these efforts to be bypassed. Technology has let the genie out of the bottle. Crypto anarchy is liberating individuals from coercion by their physical neighbors–who cannot know who they are on the Net–and from governments. For libertarians, strong crypto provides the means by which government will be avoided.
Introduced June 2009.