Andy Greenberg, technology writer for Forbes and author of the new book “This Machine Kills Secrets: How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World’s Information,” discusses the rise of the cypherpunk movement, how it led to WikiLeaks, and what the future looks like for cryptography.
Greenberg describes cypherpunks as radical techie libertarians who dreamt about using encryption to shift the balance of power from the government to individuals. He shares the rich history of the movement, contrasting one of t the movement’s founders—hardcore libertarian Tim May—with the movement’s hero—Phil Zimmerman, an applied cryptographer and developer of PGP (the first tool that allowed regular people to encrypt), a non-libertarian who was weary of cypherpunks, despite advocating crypto as a tool for combating the power of government.
According to Greenberg, the cypherpunk movement did not fade away, but rather grew into a larger hacker movement, citing the Tor network, bitcoin, and WikiLeaks as example’s of its continuing influence. Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, belonged to a listserv followed by early cypherpunks, though he was not very active at the time, he says.
Greenberg is excited for the future of information leaks, suggesting that the more decentralized process becomes, the faster cryptography will evolve.
- This Machine Kills Secrets: How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World’s Information, Greenberg
- WikiLeaks’ ‘PLUS D’ Aims To Digitize America’s Secret Diplomatic History, Greenberg
- A Different Approach To Foiling Hackers? Let Them In, Then Lie To Them., Greenberg
- WCITLeaks, Greenberg