Even though the government is a tiny minority of any population, those who recognize that the state is, at its core, a criminal organization are fewer still. It is difficult for these enlightened individuals to fight the state directly, either by fisticuffs or in the realm of public opinion. Crypto-anarchy is the practical response of anarchists in the digital age.
Crypto-anarchy seeks three things. The first is to protect privacy by limiting the capacity of the state to spy on private communications. The second is to avoid censorship by creating tools for individuals to communicate, even when the government tries to shut them down. In other words, crypto-anarchists believe that people should be free to express themselves publicly without censorship as well as privately without eavesdropping. Finally, the third thing that crypto-anarchy seeks is to allow people to freely trade goods and services in spite of government interference.
One basic thing that everyone can do is to install the HTTPS Everwhere extension in their web browser. This simple extension automatically tries to use encrypted connections to the websites that a person visits, making it more difficult for others to see what information they are sending and receiving. Continue reading →
DEF CON is an annual hacker conference where software developers, security professionals and others come together for talks and events about cracking systems. Although it is attended by many government agents, the community has a healthy contempt for government. Some past speakers have advised on how to improve your chances for privacy in light of state snooping, while others exposed government operations and propaganda.
One particularly interesting presentation was by Moxie Marlinspike, who spoke about freeing the internet from certificate authorities. The Certificate Authority program is currently used as an integral part of how web browsers create secure connections with web sites. This system is flawed because it relies on a single entity to arbitrarily decide who is trustworthy and who is not. Furthermore, it has one-size-fits-all approach that not only takes away individual choice in the present, but prevents people from choosing who to trust in the future as well. Trust, however, is not some innate quality of a person or organization that can be determined independently. Trust is a relationship between people.
Moxie’s solution is called convergence, and it works just like trust and reputation do in the real world. Instead of having a single authority who must be trusted by everyone, each individual can decide whom to trust. Furthermore, that trust is easily revoked if someone proves to be unreliable. Watch the full presentation below.