“We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems”. A cypherpunk manifesto

in #bitcoin5 years ago

The Cypherpunk manifesto was written by Eric Hughes an American mathematician, computer programmer, and cypherpunk. He is considered one of the founders of the cypherpunk movement.

His cypherpunk manifesto released on 9 March 1993 reads:

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


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 myself.

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 cryptographic signature.

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 than Rumor.

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


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 you don’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.


Privacy and encryption are the means to achieve freedom for humankind.

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