Re: Transparent Society

Hal Finney (
Wed, 5 Nov 1997 16:37:50 -0800

Lee Daniel Crocker, <>, writes:
> Perhaps Brin's and my discomfort with cypherpunks is only that,
> but I think it is more: as I said, in my experience, those who
> attach great value to preventing the spread of information about
> themselves I find strange. It is not a reasoned judgment, only
> an emotional reaction, but it is a prejudice that serves me.

You should be aware that many cypherpunks are not motivated simply by
some kind of privacy fetish. There are a couple of practical motivations.

One is fear that without cryptographic assurances, virtually all privacy
will be lost. We are moving down a path towards a surveillance society,
in which all our purchases, hobbies, subscriptions, and activities are
recorded by others. As more transactions become electronic it will
become that much easier to achieve this. Super-databases will come into
existence which integrate the disparate data from your video downloads,
your on-line payments, your web surfing habits, into a complete dossier
on you.

Another motivation is the belief that crypto technology could increase
options for voluntary interactions and reduce the impact of coercion.
It is hard to enforce a minimum wage law when the two parties interacting
know each other only by crypto pseudonyms and payment is made by
untraceable, anonymous electronic cash. Likewise many other kinds
of laws where third parties try to meddle in voluntary interactions
could be thwarted by the availability of strong cryptography. In fact
some libertarians predict that crypto will bring about the collapse of
the state, as most commerce moves into untraceable electronic forms,
depriving the state of tax revenue.