The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto

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From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Subject: The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 92 12:11:24 PST

……………………………………………
Cypherpunks of the World,
Several of you at the “physical Cypherpunks” gathering yesterday in Silicon Valley requested that more
of the material passed out in meetings be available electronically to the entire readership of the
Cypherpunks list, spooks, eavesdroppers, and all. <Gulp>

Here’s the “Crypto Anarchist Manifesto” I read at the September 1992 founding meeting. It dates back
to mid­1988 and was distributed to some like­minded techno­anarchists at the “Crypto ’88” conference
and then again at the “Hackers Conference” that year. I later gave talks at Hackers on this in 1989 and
1990.

There are a few things I’d change, but for historical reasons I’ll just leave it as is. Some of the terms may
be unfamiliar to you…I hope the Crypto Glossary I just distributed will help.
(This should explain all those cryptic terms in my .signature!)

­­Tim May
……………………………………………

The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto

Timothy C. May <tcmay@netcom.com>
A specter is haunting the modern world, the specter of crypto anarchy.
Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate
and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages,
conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal
identity, of the other. Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re­ routing of
encrypted packets and tamper­proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect
assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in
dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of
government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep
information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.

The technology for this revolution­­and it surely will be both a social and economic revolution­­has
existed in theory for the past decade. The methods are based upon public­key encryption, zero­
knowledge interactive proof systems, and various software protocols for interaction, authentication, and
verification. The focus has until now been on academic conferences in Europe and the U.S.,
conferences monitored closely by the National Security Agency. But only recently have computer
networks and personal computers attained sufficient speed to make the ideas practically realizable. And
the next ten years will bring enough additional speed to make the ideas economically feasible and
essentially unstoppable. High­speed networks, ISDN, tamper­proof boxes, smart cards, satellites, Ku­
band transmitters, multi­MIPS personal computers, and encryption chips now under development will
be some of the enabling technologies.

The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security
concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration.

Many of these concerns will be valid; crypto anarchy will allow national secrets to be trade freely and
will allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous computerized market will even make
possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion. Various criminal and foreign elements will
be active users of CryptoNet. But this will not halt the spread of crypto anarchy.

Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power
structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of
government interference in economic transactions. Combined with emerging information markets,
crypto anarchy will create a liquid market for any and all material which can be put into words and
pictures. And just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the fencing­off of vast
ranches and farms, thus altering forever the concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so
too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire
clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property.

Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences!

………………………………………………………………..
Timothy C. May
| Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@netcom.com
| anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409
| knowledge, reputations, information markets,
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839 | PGP Public Key: by arrangement.
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