Cypherpunks 101, Ep. 3: Common Myths And Misconceptions About Cypherpunks
On episode one and two of this series we touched upon the mission and ethics of cypherpunks as well as the way they use technology in order to re-establish privacy in the online world. In this article, will dispel two of the most hard to die myths surrounding cypherpunks and crypto in general, to paint a more nuanced picture of what the crypto space is all about.
Myth 1: Cryptocurrency Is Just Another Currency
One of the major competitive advantages of blockchain technology over the state is high security. Historically, institutional systems have developed different ways to record transactions of all kinds. The goal has always been to create a system that would be resilient to theft of information, corruption and manipulation. Today the nexus of power has become hopelessly corrupt and hence the state fails on these premises. We know this because of the digital profiling or detailed pictures of each individual based on the online activity. All big corporations are chasing consumer behavior because they can extract huge value from it. Cryptocurrencies, as a decentralized peer-to-peer digital system for the exchange of value, offer an alternative model to the current state of art financial instruments, where financial information is controlled and traced by the state and related institutions.
Cryptocurrencies, thus are more than simply another currency. In virtue of being based on public distributed ledgers, they provide a foundation for creating new ways to handle financial data, outside of the reach of surveillance capitalists. This is exactly the reason why cryptocurrencies were so well-received in the crypto-anarchist community and beyond. From a crypto-anarchist perspective, several blockchain applications have the potential to enable self-sustaining economic organisation. Besides control over data, cryptocurrencies offer another, more effective, anti-inflatory economic model. Bitcoin, for instance, grows organically due to the limited number of coins and hence circumvents inflation. Other cryptocurrencies, meanwhile, have been designed to be private, anonymous and fast making them popular in Dark Web markets.
Myth 2: The Dark Web Is For Human-Trafficking And Drug Exploitation
“The dark web is the hidden collective of internet sites only accessible by a specialized web browser. It is used for keeping internet activity anonymous and private, which can be helpful in both legal and illegal applications. While some use it to evade government censorship, it has also been known to be utilized for highly illegal activity. (What Is The Deep Dark Web, 2020)
When the term ‘Dark Web’ comes up, there is a tendency to assume that only people engaged in illegal activity would want to use it. Contrary to the various stereotypes and biases, the Deep Web is largely composed of safe content like public and private databases and intranets that we use every day. The face of crime has undoubtedly changed with the birth of anonymizing browsers like Tor, but as crypto-anarchists emphasize there is a beneficial side to the hidden internet. For instance, the Deep Web can be seen as a new, more democratic commercial area. Imagine, that it was not only a place to bypass the local geographical restrictions and watch a local TV but a place where one can buy otherwise unaffordable medicines to treat cancer patients? Can it become another equivalent of eBay?
Realizing the crypto-anarchist dream, the features of the Deep Web accurately represent values such as retention, reciprocity and integrity. An absence of web page indexing and network security like encryption protects users from Google and others accessing their data. Anonymous markets, therefore, should not only exist for drugs but also for food, medicines and more. Prices on the black market have the capacity to make products more accessible. Most importantly, any understanding of the ‘Dark Web’ must be mindful of the current context of surveillance and rash disregard for privacy that much of the world lives through today. It is therefore highly appealing to rejuvenate the concept of the Deep Web from the crypto-anarchist angle and explore its potential usability for improving data privacy and building an alternative economic system: We may consider the Dark Web as a means by which users can fight against totalitarianism.
About Cypherpunk Guild
The Cypherpunk Guild is a group of privacy-minded developers, marketers, and entrepreneurs, jointly collaborating to pioneer a future built around private transactions on NEAR Protocol and the larger crypto-verse. Led by two second-generation Cypherpunks, the Cypherpunk Guild supports the development of private applications on the Open Web, as a means of safeguarding user privacy and freedom.