Warm Party for a Code Group

R.A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Fri Mar 4 12:31:56 PST 2005

> At 9:01 PM +0100 3/4/05, Anonymous wrote:
>>What does this have to do with cypherpunks?

>"Narcs and feds will not be allowed at the meeting. Fuck them dead."




Wired News

Warm Party for a Code Group 
By Danit Lidor?

Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,55114,00.html

02:00 AM Sep. 13, 2002 PT

The cypherpunks are throwing a PGP (pretty good party) this weekend.

 The venerable online community is celebrating its 10th anniversary which,
in the ephemeral world of the Internet, is remarkable.

 No wonder. In 1992, the cypherpunks emerged from a small group of people
who, because of their interest in cryptography and encryption, recognized
that the free-flowing format of the burgeoning Web culture must provide for
anonymous interactions.

 Not surprisingly, they soon came under the uncomfortable scrutiny of the
formidable National Security Agency.

 The situation escalated in early 1993, after a computer programmer named
Phil Zimmermann (a patron saint of the community) -- alarmed that the
patents for public key encryption were sold to a company called RSA --
wrote an open-source, free program called PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).

 The resulting debacle, in which Zimmermann was threatened with criminal
prosecution for exporting weapons (encryption technology is termed a weapon
by the U.S. government), brought the public's right to privacy to the
forefront of the now-commonplace tug-of-war between those who favor "crypto
anarchy" and those who don't.

 Through the active work of many civil libertarians, including the
cypherpunks, pressure was brought to bear upon the government to re-think
its position. The charges against Zimmermann were dropped.

 It was a triumph. The geeks fought the law, and the geeks won.

 "The cypherpunks' paranoia about information exploitation is becoming
mainstream," Peter Wayner, author of Translucent Databases, wrote in an
e-mail interview. "Everyone is learning that the cypherpunks' insistence on
limiting the proliferation of information is a good thing."

 The cypherpunks' e-mail list forms the nucleus of the community, which has
grown to include people of many agendas and interests. No longer the
exclusive domain of crypto geeks, cypherpunks are "doctors, lawyers,
mathematicians, felons, druggies, anti-druggies, anarchists, libertarians,
right-wing fanatics, left-wing fanatics, teachers, housewives,
househusbands, students, cops and criminals," cypherpunk J.A. Terranson
wrote in a posting.

 Cypherpunk Optimizzin Al-gorithym wrote in typically obscure cypherpunk
fashion, "We're all just voices in Tim May's head."

 May, one of the original cypherpunks, continues to be an active figurehead
of the cypherpunks and has often bridged the chasm between its historically
secretive culture and its forays into the public sphere.

In 10 years, the list has become an amalgamation of a political watchdog
site, a social club and a repository of technical cryptographic discussion.

 "(It's) where people from all different backgrounds and views can hear
from one another," mathematician Nina Fefferman said. "We math people are
frequently shocked and confused by what the politicians do with regard to
legislating crypto-related issues. Conversely, the policy and society
people are frequently interested in issues that have to do with the use and
regulation of cryptographic standards and research."

 "The atmosphere isn't as electric because the scene has grown so big,"
Wayner said. "It's not just a few guys talking about the importance of some
mathematical equations. It's like debating the importance of indoor
plumbing now. No one disputes it, they just want to argue about copper
versus PVC."

 Wayner, Zimmermann, as well as May, John Gilmore and Eric Hughes (the
original founders of the list), however, have emerged from their cypherpunk
association as key public privacy figures: vocal and passionate defenders
of civil liberties on the Web.

 It's hard to imagine the secretive and fractious cryptocrusaders
assembling for a physical meeting. Even May, the party's host, isn't sure
who or how many cypherpunks to expect to his soiree at a hideaway in the
Santa Cruz (California) mountains.

 But he's adamant about who won't be coming. Never one to mince words, he
wrote, "Narcs and feds will not be allowed at the meeting. Fuck them dead."

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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