What are the Cypherpunks Fighting For?by@tanishamittal
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What are the Cypherpunks Fighting For?

by Tanisha MittalOctober 19th, 2021
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The word “Cypherpunk” is a portmanteau derived from "cipher" (means "coder") and "cyberpunk" (a sci-fi genre) Cypherpunks advocate the widespread use of robust cryptography for social and political reasons. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is the most famous Cypherpunk to date. Julian is a developer of the privacy-driven web browser Tor and founder of BitTorrent. Julian Appelbaum is also known to be the vocal spokesperson for WikiLeaks.

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Cypherpunks, the word does not just sound futuristic: it actually is. These are people who advocate the widespread use of robust cryptography for social and political reasons. The word “Cypherpunk” is a portmanteau derived from "cipher" (means "coder") and "cyberpunk" (a sci-fi genre).

Cypherpunks believe that privacy is an essential component of freedom since, without privacy, one cannot have true freedom of speech.

Most cypherpunks are technologists who view cryptography as a route to social and political change. We see cryptography not only as a technical problem but also as a matter for society and politics.

This article will tell you more about Cypherpunks, what they are fighting for, and why they are again in the limelight. These people are inspirational figures that make them stand strong. Thanks to them, we get to enjoy more privacy, although not ideal, it is more than some entities would like. 

Development of Cypherpunk

Cypherpunks have been active on the internet before most people had heard of the concept. The classic papers like the Crypto Anarchist Manifesto (1992) compiled by Timothy C May, A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto (1993), and Cyphernomicon (1994) compiled by Eric Hughes were used to promote the idea on a large scale.

These papers are primarily an introduction to cryptography, surveillance, trust networks, digital pseudonyms, and other Cypherpunk topics. These writings are available on the web and might give netizens beautiful insights into this movement.

Moreover, in the early 1990s, an electronic mailing list called "Cypherpunks" was set up to support a more public dialogue among those interested in exploring some of the significant applications of modern cryptography and privacy technology.

At first, most Cypherpunks were cryptographers or computer scientists who had become concerned about the spread of cryptographic software and anonymous digital cash. The list attracted academic lawyers, civil libertarians, journalists, entrepreneurs, students, and crypto-anarchists worldwide.

However, the Cypherpunk mailing list reached its largest membership in 1996, when it had about 2000 members. Since then, there has been much less public dialogue about cryptography and privacy. The list was largely dormant in 1998-1999 but seemed to be growing again since the attack on the World Trade Center and the increasing use of cryptocurrencies like

Notable Cypherpunks

Julian Assange - Assange joined the Cypherpunk movement at a very early stage, near 1993. Julian is the founder of WikiLeaks and is known as the most famous Cypherpunk to date.

Jacob Appelbaum - Jacob is a developer of the privacy-driven web browser Tor. He is also known to be the vocal spokesperson for WikiLeaks.

Bram Cohen - The founder of BitTorrent is also a Cypherpunk, and he also developed a cryptocurrency named Chia in 2007.

Satoshi Nakamoto = You must have heard this name already, the founder of Bitcoin. He also links back to the Cypherpunk movement.

This list doesn’t end here; various other Cypherpunks across the globe are working in the direction of making privacy a reality rather than myth.

What is the Privacy of Communication?

Cypherpunks believe that the privacy of their online communications is a fundamental right. By default, messaging apps should be encrypted to avoid eavesdropping, making mass surveillance infeasible. Cypherpunks are also big fans of Bitcoin because it provides them with the ability to make financial transactions without government oversight.

In addition to that, many netizens also use a safe browsing tool known as virtual private network (or VPNs) to hide their IP addresses and encrypt online data traffic. This digital identity protection software ensures that users’ identity and private information remains hidden and protected from hackers and other malicious sources. 

Anonymity and Pseudonyms

To achieve a genuinely open society and authentic freedom of speech, anonymous speeches are vital. This is what Cypherpunks believe in. For example, the Federalist Papers were originally published under a pseudonym because it was necessary for people who wanted to share their opinions without being judged or criticized by others.

Privacy and Self-Revelation

A list of issues surrounding privacy and the scope for self-revelation are perpetual topics on this list. Cypherpunks consider ideas, such as national uniform identification cards, too dangerous because there is a risk of abuse that far outweighs any benefits they may provide.

Moreover, they believe that these identification cards carry too much information, which is not necessary everywhere. The data can be misused for crimes like burglary, identity theft, stalking, etc.

You can be a cypherpunk and support this movement. How? Use tools that protect your identity, and show that all netizens care about enjoying a private online experience!