Cryptoanarchy and the importance of the Internet

The Internet is perhaps the greatest tool developed in the past two generations. Its uses for communication and research are obvious. Yet despite being a spinoff of what was originally a government project (the US military’s ARPANET in the 1960s), ironically it has shown itself to be a major weapon against statism and tyranny. Witness the ‘social-media revolutions’ in the Middle East and Egypt, for example. When ideas can flow unhindered, real change has a chance to take place.

Yet, unsurprisingly, states have an unending desire to regulate and control the Internet (a contemporary final frontier of liberty and free thinking), just like with almost everything else. Already, data-retention laws/directives have imposed costs and burdens upon Internet service providers, and the barriers to entry in that field are far greater than they were about fifteen years ago. Ultimately, this does not benefit the end consumer, and that is before we get to privacy concerns!

‘Cryptoanarchy’ describes a scenario in which governmental power is undermined because people can communicate remotely without being monitored by the State. This type of privacy is crucially important, and it is a grave concern that too many people do not value online privacy enough, and may be all too willing to transmit sensitive data online ‘in the clear’. Increasingly, in the face of government attempts to censor what one may post online, it will become more crucial to connect to the Internet via an encrypted or anonymous link, e.g. a virtual private network (VPN) or encrypted network TOR, which is very secure but also painfully slow. This is already the case in many countries of the world, and it would behoove the seriously privacy minded right now to subscribe to a good quality VPN service so as to protect their anonymity online. The subscription price is worth it.

Cryptoanarchy in all its guises dovetails nicely with libertarian thoughts. We are entitled to privacy and security online; the presumption should be that we are innocent unless proven guilty, and not the other way around.

2 thoughts on “Cryptoanarchy and the importance of the Internet

  1. James Rigby

    I can recommend The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy by Douglas Carswell MP. It discusses some of these points in some details

    However, as well as this, I also believe that the rise of the Internet demolishes many of the anti-Libertarian arguments. Some people say that when there was less government, people could be taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers, vendors of goods/services, etc - and this caused hardship. Which is partly true. But today’s ubiquitous internet means that people can find each other, get together, warn others, publicise their grievances and take collective action. In the 18th century, the abused worker and ripped-off consumer had no way of connecting with others to help resolve their issue. Now they do.

  2. WT

    There are quite a few websites out there talking about this and presenting ways of avoiding censorship. I believe it would’ve been helpful if you’d add some of them at the end of your article, for reference or just to raise awareness regarding existing solutions and groups.

    I’m a big fan of such subjects, keep them coming please. We spend an awful lot of time online nowadays and there aren’t enough discussions and articles on this matter.



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