- Paperback: 194 pages
- Publisher: The Times Group Books; 1 edition (1 January 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9382299378
- ISBN-13: 978-9382299370
- Package Dimensions: 17.8 x 12.6 x 1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet Paperback – Import, Jan 2013
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The Internet has led to revolutions across the world but a crackdown is now in full swing. As whole societies move online, mass surveillance programs are being deployed globally. Our civilization has reached a crossroads. In one direction lies a future promoting ""privacy for the weak and transparency for the powerful""; in the other is an internet that transfers power over entire populations to an unaccountable complex of spy agencies and their transnational corporate allies. Cypherpunks are activists who advocate the mass use of strong cryptography as a way protecting our basic freedoms against this onslaught. Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of and visionary behind WikiLeaks, has been a leading voice in the cypherpunk movement since the 1990s. Now, in a timely and important new book, Assange brings together a group of rebel thinkers and activists from the front line of the battle for cyberspace to discuss whether the internet will emancipate or enslave all of us.
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Next (and more importantly), it's basically the transcription of conversations of 4 guys who work at the forefront of privacy and crypto issues apparently sitting around and talking. And at first, it might be easy to mistake their banter as something like that of paranoid stoners, but after the initial impression rubs off you begin to realize that these guys are really getting at the heart of some very big issues that practically no one (outside of Cypherpunk circles) is thinking about.
Actually, as you penetrate the inner chapters you begin to realize that these guys have really thought about and worked directly with some of the issues they are discussing, and that these issues are some of the key issues facing modern society today, at least as far as communications, privacy and economics are concerned. Even though the interaction is informal (or perhaps because of it), you find that these guys are able to fluently discuss and debate issues that most people remain blithely unaware of.
Key for me are the discussions about economics and democracy. Indeed, rather than the cold-war or Islamophobic paranoia that some governments have acted upon over the years, perhaps the key danger citizens face to their freedoms is really the merger of the state with vast corporate entities that have become defacto entrusted with intimate keys to information about our lives. Interestingly, Assange attempts a very US Cypherpunkly devils advocate stance: "Perhaps it's OK to give over communications to big businesses so long as governments stop interfering, because they are reacting to real potential benefits in the market". To which Jacob Appelbaum rightly counters, "Well, what if the Private Prison industry continued to manipulate laws in order to boost their profits and incarcerate far more people (say those that try to block pro-incarceration laws)"?
(What I couldn't help but think about is, what if you were a known dissident that the government wanted to silence? What if they could easily dig out all of your (eg) porn searches from Google or Bing or whatever? Could they then design a life-ruining temptation to send directly at you in order to disgrace your name to the public or cause you some serious legal issues? This clearly would not be very difficult in the current milieu.)
It's heady deep stuff, and arguably a conventionally written book on these issues would have sunk like a ton of bricks. This lighter format allows the easy airing in a very readable way.
This is, therefore, an extremely important book containing words by 3rd gen cypherpunks (well, some of them...Julian is arguably 2nd gen or possibly 1st gen) who really know the issues and have, after all, been writing code. This is the book you should read right after THIS MACHINE KILLS SECRETS and, arguably, Oliver Stone's recent book.
This book is incredibly important and vital to all of us, as is Julian Assange. I was beginning to think he wasn't that relevant at this point in history, but after reading this book I realize just how crucial, pivotal, and impactful his thoughts and actions are.
Given we're communicating here on a major web presence, namely Amazon, I actually hope that they are listening to our conversation and thoughts regarding this seminal issue. But only to the extent that they learn something about the concept of what freedom really is!