The term crypto-anarchy describes a practiced anarchy in cyberspace. Crypto-anarchists see a growing disparity between state empowerment and secrecy on the one hand, and state disenfranchisement and surveillance of the citizen on the other. They try to use the possibilities offered by cryptography and computer networks such as the Internet to reverse these conditions; i.e. to publish state secrets, to circumvent laws and to provide free cryptographic software with which one can communicate anonymously or trade.
Many crypto-anarchists are politically close to libertarianism or its more radical varieties such as anarcho-capitalism. Tymothy May writes in The Cyphernomicon: “What will come out of it [crypto-anarchy] is uncertain, but I think it will become a kind of anarcho-capitalist market system that I call crypto-anarchy.”
Crypto-anarchists are in favor of free, if necessary. black markets (counter-economics) and the right to absolute anonymity in cyberspace, relying on the concept of credible deniability. They acknowledge that this provides fertile ground for criminal elements, but argue that cryptography is tantamount to the secrecy of correspondence, which is only denied by totalitarian regimes.
In general, the idea of crypto-anarchy can hardly be reconciled with the elements of anarchism. In the true sense of the word, the aspect of anarchy merely refers to the absence of state power, but at the same time propagates a free, capitalist market economy in the digital space. However, most anarchist theories also reject capitalism as a form of rule that is at odds with anarchy. This misleading use of the term anarchy is also found in the theory of anarcho-capitalism.
Examples of Crypto Anarchy
- Tor, I2P or Freenet are examples of networks that allow anonymous and censorship-resistant data exchange.
- WikiLeaks is an investigative platform that publishes government secrets under the slogan “We open governments”.
- Bitcoin, Litecoin and Monero are examples of cryptographic currencies designed to undermine the currency monopoly of central banks.
- Darknet markets are platforms that use the Tor network and cryptocurrencies, among other things, to enable anonymous (and also illegal) trading.
- Defense Distributed is a non-profit organization of the American Cody Wilson, which has published blueprints for weapons that can be made with 3D printers on the Internet.