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Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet

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Cypherpunks are activists who advocate the widespread use of strong cryptography (writing in code) as a route to progressive change. Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of and visionary behind WikiLeaks, has been a leading voice in the cypherpunk movement since its inception in the 1980s.

Now, in what is sure to be a wave-making new book, Assange brings together a small group of cutting-edge thinkers and activists from the front line of the battle for cyber-space to discuss whether electronic communications will emancipate or enslave us. Among the topics addressed are: Do Facebook and Google constitute "the greatest surveillance machine that ever existed," perpetually tracking our location, our contacts and our lives? Far from being victims of that surveillance, are most of us willing collaborators? Are there legitimate forms of surveillance, for instance in relation to the "Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse" (money laundering, drugs, terrorism and pornography)? And do we have the ability, through conscious action and technological savvy, to resist this tide and secure a world where freedom is something which the Internet helps bring about?

The harassment of WikiLeaks and other Internet activists, together with attempts to introduce anti-file sharing legislation such as SOPA and ACTA, indicate that the politics of the Internet have reached a crossroads. In one direction lies a future that guarantees, in the watchwords of the cypherpunks, "privacy for the weak and transparency for the powerful"; in the other lies an Internet that allows government and large corporations to discover ever more about internet users while hiding their own activities. Assange and his co-discussants unpick the complex issues surrounding this crucial choice with clarity and engaging enthusiasm.

192 pages, Paperback

First published November 1, 2012

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About the author

Julian Assange

18 books328 followers
Julian Paul Assange is an Australian publisher, journalist, software developer and Internet activist. He is the founder, spokesperson, and editor in chief of WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website and conduit for worldwide news leaks, with the stated purpose of creating open governments. Assange has worked as a computer programmer and was a hacker during his youth. He has lived in several countries, and has made public appearances in many parts of the world to speak about freedom of the press, censorship, and investigative journalism.

Assange founded the WikiLeaks website in 2006 and serves on its advisory board. He has published material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya, toxic waste dumping in Côte d'Ivoire, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay procedures, and banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer. In 2010, he published classified details about American involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and its five international print media partners (Der Spiegel, The New York Times, Le Monde, The Guardian and El País) began publishing secret US diplomatic cables.

Assange has been praised and condemned for his work with WikiLeaks. In the USA, there have been calls for him to be arrested or treated as a terrorist. He received a number of awards and nominations, including the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award for publishing material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya and Readers' Choice for Time magazine's 2010 Person of the Year.

Assange is currently wanted for questioning in Sweden regarding alleged sexual offences, and was arrested in London, England on 7 December 2010. He is currently on bail and under house arrest in England pending the outcome of an extradition hearing. The ruling is scheduled for 24 February. Assange has denied the allegations and claimed that they are politically motivated.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 179 reviews
Profile Image for Owlseyes .
1,634 reviews257 followers
April 26, 2020
NOTES:

-Missing for 1 month
-his organization being infiltrated?
-he said" if I disappear I am going to release this key data..."
-Assange’s internet access being tampered with...
-...





Is Wikileaks founder Julian Assange missing? No “proof of life,” fans say

in:https://www.intellihub.com/wikileaks-...

EMERGENCY: JULIAN ASSANGE MISSING, POSSIBLY DEAD
Assange a modern day Founding Father
in: http://www.infowars.com/emergency-jul...

UPDATE
Those were notes of Nov 26, 2016.
I must add he's been arrested last 12th of April, 2019
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47891737


(Die Linke worries too...)

The present book gives you an idea of the Cypherpunk philosophy, via the interviews/talks, conducted by Assange, with 3 digital activists. Topics approached are: Bitcoin, censorship, politics and internet, total surveillance, private-sector espionage, cyberspace militarization, persecution on Julian Assange, and much, much more.


(4 digital activists)
However, the events portrayed in the book reach only the year 2012. Much has occurred since then.
Too much.

UPDATE

(Die Zeit)
Solitary confinement leads to psychological trauma?
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,823 reviews1,327 followers
August 18, 2014
It wasn't a view that one should simply complain about the burgeoning surveillance state and so on, but that we can, in fact, must build the tools of a new democracy.

Plagiarism has been the flashpoint on GR this weekend. I thought about the controversy when copyright law is called into question throughout Cypherpunks. Sharing and privacy not only maintain autonomy, so the book goes, but each further civilization. It is difficult to argue with that. That said, this discussion was all a bit "meh" for me. Lord knows I hate that judgment but it sticks to me. There is total lack of rigor in this book. Points are made and then begins a retreat into glib rejoinders and cliché. It is important to recall that this occurred before the Snowden revelations. I will likely explore some secondary sources now.
Profile Image for Lori.
291 reviews5 followers
June 13, 2013
Okay its not exactly a Book, which is why I gave it 4 stars, more like extended interviews with Julian Assange talking with contemporaries about how e-communications and surveillance, by government, Google, Facebook etc. Big Brother is already here according to them; for example, all financial transactions credit card, checks, & cash, are tracked. Well I thought that far fetched with cash then realized I had a "Where is George" tracker app tracing the travels of a $1 bill I registered.
Whether one follows Assange or hates him, unfortunately everything he said in the book is coming out in open to be true. What is kinda remarkable is this book in print form was out last year. The gist of everything Edward Snowden revealed is already talked about in Cypherpunks. It is frightening if one if one considers that the same government claiming to be collecting all that data for benevolent reasons can turn malevolent in the face of resistance. If anyone thinks that could not happen here, look up the recent IRS hearings.
Profile Image for Mat.
82 reviews30 followers
January 8, 2013
If you want a more lucid and thorough look at the past and possible future of the internet, check Heather Brooke's "The Revolution Will Be Digitised", if you can stomach her personal vendetta against Assange.

But this book's good. Here are some quotes that jumped out at me:


Within a few years, global civilization will be a postmodern surveillance dystopia, from which escape for all but the most skilled individuals will be impossible. In fact, we may already be there.

It is important to understand these systems, because when we don’t understand them there’s a general trend to defer to authority, to people who do understand them or are able to assert control over them, even if they do not understand the essence of the thing itself. Which is why we see so much hype about cyber war—it’s because some people that seem to be in the authority about war start talking about technology as if they understand it.


Such people are often talking about cyber war and not one of them, not a single one, is talking about cyber peace-building, or anything related to peace-building. They are always talking about war because that’s their business and they are trying to control technological and legal processes as a means for promoting their own interests. So when we have no control over our technology such people wish to use it for their ends, for war specifically.


Cryptography is the ultimate form of non-violent direct action.

Strong cryptography can resist an unlimited application of violence. No amount of coercive force will ever solve a math problem.

As states merge with the internet and the future of our civilization becomes the future of the internet, we must redefine force relations. If we do not, the universality of the internet will merge global humanity into one giant grid of mass surveillance and mass control.

We must raise an alarm. This book is a watchman’s shout in the night.

When you communicate over the internet, when you communicate using mobile phones, which are now meshed to the internet, your communications are being intercepted by military intelligence organizations. It’s like having a tank in your bedroom. It’s a soldier between you and your wife as you’re SMSing.

There has been a shift in the last few years from intercepting everything going across from one country to another and picking out the particular people you want to spy on and assigning them to human beings, to now intercepting everything and storing everything permanently.

Ten years ago this was seen to be a fantasy, this was seen to be something only paranoid people believed in, but the costs of mass interception have now decreased to the point where even a country like Libya with relatively few resources was doing it with French technology. In fact most countries are already there in terms of the actual interception.

States within Europe are massively buying machines that allow them to act exactly outside the law in regard to interception because they don’t need a court decision, they can just switch it on and do it, and this technology can’t be controlled.

This technology is very complex; for example in the debate in Australia and the UK about proposed legislation to intercept all metadata, most people do not understand the value of metadata or even the word itself. Intercepting all metadata means you have to build a system that physically intercepts all data and then throws everything but the metadata away. But such a system cannot be trusted.

We’re now at a stage where the human population is doubling every twenty-five years or so — but the capacity of surveillance is doubling every eighteen months. The surveillance curve is dominating the population curve. There is no direct escape. We’re now at the stage where just $10 million can buy you a unit to permanently store the mass intercepts of a medium sized country. So I wonder if we need an equivalent response. This really is a big threat to democracy and to freedom all around the world that needs a response, like the threat of atomic war needed a mass response, to try and control it, while we still can.

If you’re a standard Google user Google knows who you’re communicating with, who you know, what you’re researching, potentially your sexual orientation, and your religious and philosophical beliefs… It knows more about you than you know yourself... Do you know what you looked for two years, three days and four hours ago? You don’t know; Google knows... Actually, I try not to use Google any more for these very reasons.

And it can be argued that the US spying agencies have access to all of Google’s stored data. And all of Facebook’s data, so in a way Facebook and Google may be extensions of these agencies.

It’s absolute madness to imagine that we give up all of our personal data to these companies, and then the companies have essentially become privatized secret police. And—in the case of Facebook — we even have democratized surveillance. Instead of paying people off the way the Stasi did in East Germany, we reward them as a culture — they get laid now.

If you build a system that logs everything about a person and you know that you live in a country with laws that will force the government to give that up, then maybe you shouldn’t build that kind of system.

Cryptography can solve the bulk interception problem, and it’s the bulk interception problem which is a threat to global civilization. Individual targeting is not the threat.

Of course anyone can stay off the internet, but then it’s hard for them to have any influence. They select themselves out of being influential by doing that. It’s the same with mobile phones; you can choose not to have a mobile phone but you reduce your influence. It’s not a way forward.

I think that the only effective defense against the coming surveillance dystopia is one where you take steps yourself to safeguard your privacy. A historical analogy could be how people learned that they should wash their hands.

The only question is in which one of the two ways will they think about it? They will either think, “I need to be careful about what I say, I need to conform,” the whole time, in every interaction. Or they will think “I need to master little components of this technology and install things that protect me so I’m able to express my thoughts freely and communicate freely with my friends and people I care about.” If people don’t take that second step then we’ll have a universal political correctness, because even when people are communicating with their closest friends they will be self-censors and will remove themselves as political actors from the world.

The people that created Google didn’t start out to create Google, to create the greatest surveillance machine that ever existed. But in effect that is what has been created.

In the political storytelling it is called stealing, but I want to make my point that everybody who used Napster back in 1999 became a music fan and then went to concerts and became a descriptor telling everybody, “You should listen to those people, you should go to that concert” and so on.

Some members of the European Parliament now understand that when individuals share things, when they share files without a profit, they shouldn’t go to jail, they shouldn’t be punished.

You can have a totally secure technical system and the government will think it’s no good, because they think security is when they can look into it, when they can control it, when they can breach the technical security.

That is the most dangerous thing that happens to governments these days — when people have better ideas than what their policy is.

This has had a tremendous chilling effect on the Chinese — not that they’re being censored but that everything that they read is being spied upon and recorded. In fact, that’s true for all us. This is something that modifies people, when they are aware of it.

Journalists are rarely instructed, “Don’t print anything about that,” or, “Don’t print that fact.” Rather they understand that they are expected to because they understand the interests of those they wish to placate or grow close to. If you behave you’ll be patted on the head and rewarded, and if you don’t behave then you won’t. It’s that simple. I’m often fond of making this example: the obvious censorship that occurred in the Soviet Union, the censorship that was propagandized about so much in the West — jackboots coming for journalists in the middle of the night to take them from their homes — has just been shifted by twelve hours. Now we wait for the day and take homes from journalists, as they fall out of patronage and are unable to service their debts.

People need to know that they cannot just sit idly by, they need to actually take action, and hopefully they will.

Italian hackers behave totally differently than German hackers — wherever they are, they need to make good food; with German hackers, they need to have everything well-structured.

The transnational surveillance state and endless drone wars are almost upon us.

All communications will be surveilled, permanently recorded, permanently tracked, each individual in all their interactions permanently identified as that individual to this new Establishment, from birth to death. That’s a major shift from even ten years ago and we’re already practically there. I think that can only produce a very controlling atmosphere.

How can a normal person be free within that system? They simply cannot, it’s impossible. Not that anyone can ever be completely free, within any system, but the freedoms that we have biologically evolved for, and the freedoms that we have become culturally accustomed to, will be almost entirely eliminated.




Profile Image for Kevin.
269 reviews576 followers
August 28, 2022
Given the recent arrest of Assange, I went back to re-read these pressing discussions between 4 internet activists (Julian Assange, Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn, and Jérémie Zimmermann):

The Good:
--Regarding the relationship between increased communication and increased surveillance, a simple yet effective illustration offered: imagine if roads are now built to track your movement. This gets into privacy by policy vs. privacy by design.
--Interesting hearing 4 hacktivists contemplate the social relationship between power and complexity, given the hacker philosophy of understanding how technology works instead of being trapped by it.
--Assange offers his Western censorship pyramid, a worthy model to synthesize with the Propaganda Model in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media as the more accessible Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, highlighting the sophisticated layers that enable deniability of censorship:
1) Publicly-declared (visible layer): libel suits, attacking journalists/whistle-blowers, etc.
2) Self-censorship: to avoid public censorship.
3) Economic/patronage inducements
4) Raw economics: e.g. advertising profits
5) Prejudice of readers lacking education
6) Control of distribution

The Missing:
--The format (transcript of group discussion) offers the accessibility that I think contributes to the popularity of podcasts, where ideas are bounced around and unraveled in real time. However, it lacks that next layer of research/reflection…
--I would like to hear these 4 hacktivists in conversation with someone outside their technical realm to make more connections with global political economy (like Noam Chomsky, Vijay Prashad, Yanis Varoufakis, etc.), i.e. social organizing/movements, role of institutions, etc. This seems most pressing regarding economic systems, and I’d also like to see the hints of accelerationism unpacked (this gets into strategy/ideology/conception of history)… An example is the conversation between Varoufakis and Chomsky regarding Adults in the Room: My Battle with Europe's Deep Establishment.
Profile Image for Ferda Nihat Koksoy.
437 reviews15 followers
September 3, 2020
ŞİFREPUNK - ÖZGÜRLÜK ve İNTERNETİN GELECEĞİ ÜZERİNE BİR TARTIŞMA

-Bu KİTAP bir UYARIDIR:
Dünyanın en önemli özgürleşme aracı olan İNTERNET, dörtnala gidilen TOTALİTERLİĞİN bugüne dek görülmedik düzeyde tehlikeli bir yöntemi haline gelmekte olup, İNSAN UYGARLIĞI için bir TEHDİT arzetmektedir. Bu dönüşüm, olanlardan haberdar kişilerin küresel gözetim sisteminde istihdam edilmiş olmaları nedeniyle sessizce gerçekleşmektedir; kendi haline bırakılması halinde ise birkaç yıl içerisinde GÖZETLEMEYE DAYALI KARA ÜTOPYAYA dönüşecek ve internet ustaları dışındakilerin bundan kaçması mümkün olmayacaktır. Mevcut gelişmeler, KARANLIKTAN SONRA DAİMA ZİFİRİ KARANLIK GELİR sözünü doğrulayacak boyuttadır. Söz konusu olan YAYILMACI BİR PARAZİTTİR ve internetle bütünleşen toplumları emerek büyümektedir.

DEVLETLER toplumların KILCAL DAMARLARINA ve ANA ARTERLERİNE SÜLÜK GİBİ nüfuz ederek, yapılan bütün görüşmeleri, okunan tüm internet sayfalarını, gönderilen tüm mesajları, Google'da aranan bütün bilgileri yutmakta ve elde ettiği sınırsız güç sayesinde, tüm bilgileri devasa gizli depolarda sonsuza kadar saklamaktadır. 2 yıl 3 ay önce internette ne aradığımızı hiç birimiz bilemez iken, Google bilmektedir artık.

-Fakat biz teknoloji meraklıları bir şey keşfettik: ŞİFREYAZIM; yani bilgilerimizi ŞİFRELEYEREK korumak ve ulaşılmasına kendimizin izin vermesini sağlamak. Önceleri önemsenmeyen geliştirdiğimiz ŞİFREYAZIM, BANKALAR tarafından kullanıldığında elde edilen GÜVENCE fikirlerin değişmesine yol açtı. Ancak güçlü bir ŞİFREYAZIM, SINIRSIZ ŞİDDETE KARŞI KOYABİLİR. (ŞİFREPUNK, işte bunu yani toplumsal ve siyasal değişimin araçları olarak ŞİFREYAZIM (kriptografi) ve benzer yöntemler kullanmayı savunan kişi demektir)

-Bunun üzerine devletler, biz şifreyazımcılara savaş açmış, her türlü taciz ve yasaklamayı tüm açtığımız davalara rağmen sürdürmektedir. WikiLeaks nedeniyle, bağışçılarımızın VISA, MASTERCARD, PAYPAL üzerinden para göndermeleri engellenmiş, AMAZON üzerinden satışlarımıza yasak konmuş, GOOGLE ve FACEBOOK bilgilerimiz mahkeme(?) kararı ile elde edilmiş, akademilerde ise WikiLeaks belgeleri üzerinden tüm çalışmalar yasaklanmıştır.

Halen 120 kişilik bir Pentagon-CIA-FBI ekibi, sadece bizi izlemektedir.

-FACEBOOK, İNSANLARI KENDİLERİNE DAİR HER ŞEYİ HİÇ ÇEKİNMEDEN İNTERNETE BOCA ETME ve BAŞKALARININ GÖZÜNDE PUAN TOPLAMAYA İKNA EDEN SİSTEMİ ile, çıkış amacı böyle olmamakla birlikte, devletlere ve art niyetlilere istedikleri tüm bilgileri sunan bulunmaz bir ortam durumuna gelmiştir. Sadece tanıdıklarınızın göreceğini sandığınız her şey, Facebook tarafından kaydedilmekte ve istenildiğinde kullanılabilmektedir.

-CEP TELEFONU aslen bir İZLENME CİHAZI'dır; ara sıra da GÖRÜŞME yaparsınız.

-Bilgisayar etkinliği öyle bir hale gelmiş ve neoliberal ekonomik prizmanın tepesine yerleşmiştir ki, artık "uçak, araba, işitme cihazı" diye birşey yoktur; "kanatlı-dört tekerli-işittiren bilgisayarlar" vardır.

-Tüm toplumu gözetleme sisteminin, bir savaş uçağı maliyetinden daha az harcama gerektirdiğini unutmamak gerekir. PANOPTIKON süratle geliştirilmekte ve insanlara OTOSANSÜR'e ikna edilmektedir. HERKESİN GÖZETİMİNİ KAMUOYUNDA MEŞRULAŞTIRMAK için tüm devletler aynı ENFORMASYON MAHŞERİNİN 4 ATLISININ BAHANESİNİN ARKASINA SIĞINMAKTA ve ÖZGÜRLÜKLERE İLİŞKİN TÜM İHLALLERİNİ bu gerekçelerle yapmaktadırlar: 1) TERÖR 2) ÇOCUK PORNOSU 3) UYUŞTURUCU 4)KARA PARA.

-DEVLETLER ile ÖZEL ŞİRKETLERİN sınırlarının birbirine geçtiği telekomünikasyon ve internet sistemleri ile herkesin izlendiği ortam, neler olup bittiğini bilme şansına sahip kişiler için başta BORSA olmak üzere ekonomik ve siyasi avantajlar da sağlamaktadır.

-ÖZGÜR ve ÖZERK iletişimin siyasal hakları için mücadeleyi sürdürmek, özel MAHREMİYETİMİZİ korumaya ve TEK-MERKEZCİ OLMAYAN BİR İNTERNET kullanımına yönelik YASAL DÜZENLEMELER İÇİN BASKI yapmamız gerekmektedir.

-Amerika merkezli VISA ve MASTERCARD'ın dünya egemenliği o derece artmıştır ki koca Rusya bile kendi sınırları içerisinde kredi kartı uygulamasını becerememiştir.

Bu hegemonyanın aşılması için yeni yöntemler geliştirmeliyiz. BITCOIN ismiyle geliştirilen ve tehlike nedeniyle geliştirenin adının gizlendiği yeni ELEKTRONİK PARA sistemi, yavaş da olsa giderek yayılmakta ve umut vermektedir. Çünkü çok kolay hesap açılmaktadır, banka masrafları yoktur ve sıfır enflasyon ile işlemektedir (Tor projesi ile birleştirilirse çok daha güvenli ve etkili olacaktır).

-Artık KORUMALI BAĞIMSIZ AÇIK-YAZILIM ARAMA PROGRAMLARINA, GÜÇLÜ ŞİFREYAZIMLARA ve YENİ PROJELER YARATMAYA ihtiyacımız var (UNUTMAYIN son 10 yılın kayda değer tüm internet gelişimleri, bağımsız ve baş başa vermiş birkaç kişi tarafından yaratılmıştır).

-Bilgilerimizi paylaşarak ŞİFRELERİMİZİ ve FİLTRELEMELERİMİZİ KENDİMİZ YAPACAK düzeye gelmemiz, ÖZGÜRLÜK ve ÖZERKLİĞİMİZİ temin etmemiz gerekmektedir.
Profile Image for Soham Chakraborty.
113 reviews31 followers
November 22, 2014
Unjust laws exist;
shall we be content to obey them,
or shall we endeavor to amend them,
and obey them until we have succeeded,

or shall we transgress them at once?
- Henry David Thoreau


I am writing this as I have the documentary 'The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz' running in my next tab. Because it kind of gives me the feel, the kick to write a review of this book and related books and also share what I feel about issues like these what Assange, Appelbaum, Jeremie and Andy were discussing.

I am not an expert in epistemology. I am just a computer engineer, specializing in a tiny segment of computer science. But I feel that human knowledge so far has had few fundamental bearers which carried it. The first one was obviously spoken communication between us, second one was the invention of printing press and the third one is a fairly recent one, 25 years old Internet. Internet was invented by Sir Vint Cerf and the famous 'Triple W' or www was invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Both of them made their inventions open source, meaning no one could patent them, no one could acquiesce those technologies and everyone and anyone can use, edit, modify, publish their own versions. Like multiple authors of a book, like peer reviewed scientific journals, Internet is also collaborative. Think of Wikipedia. Or even think of goodreads.com. We can all share our views, argue them, debate them endlessly, learn new things, discard useless friend requests and all.

Now, think of something. We all loathe book banning. Very recently, Wendy Doninger's book on Hinduism was not allowed to publish in India. To give a perspective, how would we all react if a country, say Syria or Libya or Egypt, blocks goodreads.com or wikipedia.org. We will miss information. More so, citizens of those countries will miss information and virtually will be annihilated in a claustrophobic country where information cannot enter or go out. Egypt had banned Internet during Hosni Mubarak's regime, effectively cutting off communications of the protests there. Hell, we even had the 'Hydra Incident' in GR and there was some stories about Amazon manipulating GR, although I don't know how much they are true.

Recently youtube and twitter were banned in Turkey (now outlawed). The great firewall of China is world renowned. Hungary, few months ago, proposed an Internet tax where information exchange (in technical terms data usage) will be taxed. Thousands protested and legislation didn't pass. For anyone interested, please go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet...

Now there is the most recent and imminent danger to the freedom of Internet, liberty of exchange of thoughts and communications.

What if I say that when you PM someone in goodreads, a fellow reader and friend, to discuss something, all the communications will be monitored? What if when I PM someone in Spain or Netherlands who has read a book that is banned here to exchange opinions and those PM exchanges get tracked? Then, it essentially means that the authorities or intercepting agencies can track me, monitor my movements on Internet. Now that I am a target and have been identified, state can instruct my ISP to hand them over list of all websites I have visited. This list can contain my emails, chat history, bank transactions, financial information, number of my girlfriend or boyfriend or any beautiful girl who whose profile I had visited 100 times or facebook or anyone I care about.

The question now is, I login to gmail with my google username and password and with facebook with facebook credentials. Same goes for twitter or goodreads. So how can state do their surveillance? Remember that all of these websites have their data storage in specific servers, most of which reside in USA. Heard about NSA, did you?

In America, there is something called NSL (National security letter) which is an administrative subpoena issued by FBI in authorized security investigations (copied proudly from Wikipedia). With this state can order any website to disclose information about it's users and they can ask for it along with a gag order. Meaning, the website cannot tell you, the user, that you are under surveillance and anything you do, will be handed over to the government. That means, if person X decides to go to Madrid to attend a conference, then goes to Brasil to spend vacation and meet friends, all those data - seemingly personal - will be collected by state authorities and can be used against you. In fact, that means you are being tracked without knowing you are tracked and you will not know that you are being tracked. Therefore, you cannot approach any court or consult lawyer, because you don't even know.

What if I tell you that co-author of this book, Jacob Appelbaum, fondly known as @ioerror in twitter, was subjected to NSL gag order. If you don't have time for 1 minute and 12 seconds, head to 50 seconds and listen closely. Listen to the answer of the FBI representative and then think about the quotation of Thoreau, cited at the very beginning.

Now, I know this because youtube is still not banned here and I can search in Google 'Appelbaum and NSL'. Please remember that anything you search in Google, _ANYTHING_, whether you search in incognito mode or delete history, cookies, is recorded by Google. Every-single-search-term. When you post a status update in facebook, and in the middle of it, decide to not post, the half cooked status gets recorded by facebook. I got to know this thanks to @Uberfacts in twitter.

Heck, right now as I write this in Goodreads, I see that I am being tracked by 7 trackers. Note the firms who track us. Just so you know, Doubleclick is a subsidiary of Google. Around 2 months back, The Economist published a special report on who track us and how they track us. Apparently even without state, businesses love to track us and they share those information with third parties as well. I am pretty sure, most of us, if not all have not ever read the policies and agreements that we sign in Internet.

Now that I have written all these much, it wasn't my intention to write these when I started reviewing this book. It was just one topic leading to another leading to something else that this review arrived here. And while this review is clearly not a to the point review of this book, I hope it captures the essence of what the four revolutionaries, Julian Assange, Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Muller-Maguhn and Jeremie Zimmermann, were trying to convey.

The bottom-line is that, one of the greatest inventions of human kind which has managed to change the world, is in danger. And at the very least, we should know about that danger. While knowing the danger will not fix the problem, at least it will help us to prepare better for the battle, which some folks among us are already fighting.

For anyone remotely interested, I request and urge you to see this documentary The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Also, Tim Berners-Lee here talks about why Internet should be free.
Profile Image for Ernesto F..
26 reviews2 followers
December 10, 2013
It is must-read, if it has been published in your country.
The discusions here are good for business men, for tech fans, and for human rights activists. Well, everybody should know at least a bit of what it contains: a very healthy discussion about modern technology, and what using it truly means to our rights, our privacy and our freedom most of all.
What to do if you like technology, but you also like your freedom of thought, and of speech? What can be done to stay in a world like ours, and not be afraid of being watched simply because somebody can watch you? That's the kind of questions this book discusses, with the most intresting of answers. Not always the happy answers we wish to hear, but sincere at least.
Profile Image for Xpectro.
34 reviews23 followers
June 22, 2013
Es un libro interesante para leer y conocer las ideas que
mueven a estos activistas. No es sobre la vida o historia de wikileaks, así que puede interesar a un público más ámplio.

Resulta relevante leerlo hoy, ante las actuales revelaciones ocurridas es USA con respecto a privacidad.
Profile Image for Disnocen.
12 reviews
August 11, 2020

The message of this book is not that we are all constantly spied on by all state organizations. This is obvious and proven thanks to the Snowden revelations, we wouldn't need a book for this (even if this book has been published before those revelations, some of them were already known to people watching the leaks on Wikileaks).


This book is a conversation between four knowledgeable people about the implications of this. The book is useful for learning how to think about "state surveillance" using the appropriate lexicon. It is a book that does not lend itself to summaries or syntheses of one bit of information (good/bad, right/wrong, ...). For example: it makes no sense to ask whether this book is for or against state surveillance, despite being sold and presented as an "against" book (the fact that this book is presented as written by just Julian Assange is an example of this). Indeed, the greatest value of the book is that it gives the opportunity to attend a conversation that brings out the details and subtleties of the surveillance topic. For example, the four participants in the conversation have different ideas on how to act against the Four Horsemen of Info-pocalypse so as not to harm the privacy of other users, which specifically means that the topic is difficult and there is no one-size fits all solution.


For reasons of readability, the conversation is edited and inserts definitions of lesser known words both with notes and inline. This is useful because it gives the reader the lexicon and references to deepen the concepts he is interested in. The result is that the reader witnesses an exchange of thoughts between four people who have direct experience of the problem.


One of the consequences of surveillance is the ubiquity of politically correct and self-censorship: these consequences affect people's freedom of communication. (one of the three fundamental freedoms according to Assange, together with that of economic movement and interaction). Another consequence of surveillance is the fear of reading and seeking the truth: f people are afraid to go to the wikileaks site, for example, they wouldn't know that in some treaties or proposals for international treaties such as ACTA, where the mainstream narrative was that of promoting "fair" trade and was actually supported by lobbies like Scientology for very different purposes.The devil is in the detail: it is not that Scientology is bad per se, what's bad is there is no transaparency on how those international treaties are really about.


One last example. The links I put in this review are from Wikipedia. The four participants agree that Wikipedia, which is highly politicized, cannot be trusted. This topic was recently taken up by one of the co-founders of Wikipedia which describes how it is badly biased. The linked blog post is from 2020, the conversation from the book is from 2012: this is another example for which the 4 were right. What else were they right about?


In conclusion, this is obviously a biased book, but one that expresses common sense concepts. It cannot be the only source on the subject and to understand the privacy/surveillance tradeoff it is necessary to read other books from the opposite side and decide for yourself.


Profile Image for Razvan Zamfirescu.
521 reviews76 followers
November 13, 2016
Spicuiri din recenzia finala care se gaseste pe blogul meu



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Guvernul Statelor Unite a demarat o anchetă penală împotriva Wikileaks și a lui Julian Assange, cel din urmă fiind acuzat inclusiv de spionaj, acțiune care cade sub incidența Legii Spionajului din 1917. În decembrie 2010 unii politicieni din guvernul Statelor Unite au cerut chiar asasinarea lui Assange, acesta fiind considerat un „terorist high-tech”. Pentagonul a format o echipă de 120 de persoane care sub acronimul WTF (Wikileaks Task Force) se ocupă cu „luarea de măsuri” împotriva Wikileaks. Tot în decembrie 2010, guvernul SUA a cerut furnizorilor de servicii de internet să sisteze serviciile către wikileaks.org. Amazon a răspuns prompt și a scos de pe serverele sale site-ul, iar o zi mai târziu (02.12.2010) serviciul DNS pentru wikileaks.org nu mai era funcțional. Un astfel de proces de cenzură agresiv și categoric al unei publicații jurnalistice este fără precedent.

Pe lângă cenzura propriu-zisă, guvernul SUA a instaurat o așa zisă „blocadă bancară” asa însemnând că au supus instituții bancare precum VISA, Mastercard, PayPal și Bank of America la presiuni neoficiale, presiuni care au dus către sistarea de către sus numitele instituții a tuturor transferurilor bancare, donațiilor și a oricărui tip de serviciu financiar către conturile asociate Wikileaks.

De asemenea guvernul SUA a mai cerut Twitter să predea arhivele de comunicare electronică pe care le dețineau anumiți utilizatori asociați cu Wikileaks. Twitter și-a anunțat utilizatorii, pe când Google care a primit aceeași somație, nu a făcut nici o declarație publică cu privire la un eventual răspuns negativ sau pozitiv la somație și nici nu și-a anunțat utilizatorii cu privire la respectiva somație. Conform „ordinului 2703(d)” guvernul Statelor Unite își oferă autoritatea de a forța predarea arhivelor de comunicație electronică fără a fi necesară aprobarea unui judecător. Datorită acestei legi guvernul a găsit o cale să ocolească protecția pe care o oferă Cel de-al Patrulea Amendament împotriva percheziției și confiscării arbitrare.
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January 10, 2014
Cypherpunks is an outstanding overview of the current state of the Cyberspace War of Independence as it is being fought in what we have been taught to refer to as “the free world.” As a transcription of a conversation between Julian Assange, Jacob Applebaum, Jérémie Zimmermann and Andy Müller-Maguhn it reads sort of like a journalistic exposé, sort of like an underground crypto-anarchist ezine and sort of like the most articulate play ever written. The short length of this pertinent page-turner combined with its authors' unrelenting commitment to honesty and the liberation of all-minds makes for an experience that feels like listening to one of those really good political punk songs that incite riots and get whole audiences gassed by police. Two hundred years before the Internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that “Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” I doubt you'll find a contemporary book that will make you freer than this one will. Read it and join the revolution.
Profile Image for Vasil Kolev.
1,036 reviews160 followers
May 11, 2015
The book is a discussion between the four authors on various topics related to censorship, anonymity, surveillance, governments and other related topics. It contains a good summary of the thoughts on the topics in the last 20 years, and takes on things like what they call The Four Horsemen of the Info-pocalypse: child pornography, terrorism, money laundering, and The War on Some Drugs - the ones used to justify the reduction of the freedoms we have.

I've been reading the related developments in the last few years, and it was useful to me that it added and systematized all that. It would be great for everyone who hasn't been tracking the matters.
Profile Image for Arjen.
160 reviews86 followers
April 12, 2014
Nice enough small book by Julian Assange. It's actually a transcription of a conversation he had with like minded people. Interesting if you're not familiar with the cypherpunk movement or wikileaks and want to have a bit more background.

What I do recommend is that you read this article: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n05/andrew-o... about Assange, before or after you read this one. Written by the ghostwriter of what was supposed to be the authorized biography of Assange. Take your time, it's a long read but well worth the effort. Puts a whole new perspective on the man.

3 stars, in combination with the article by Andrew O'Hagan , 4 stars.
Profile Image for Jason Gordon.
56 reviews120 followers
December 10, 2012
An amazing book on the totalitarian use of the internet by corporations and governments to facilitate a massive state surveillance system. I especially liked the authors' explanation of how surveillance and censorship are inextricably linked -- a fact that goes unnoticed by many.
Profile Image for Lucas.
130 reviews24 followers
December 12, 2019
Leitura realmente fantástica e estimulante. Quando comprei esse livro, imaginei que se tratava de um livro editado de qualquer forma apenas para levantar fundos (sempre penso isso de livros com muitos "autores"), mas decidi ler por saber que era muito ignorante no assunto (imprensa no século XXI/tecnologia e liberdades civis) e mesmo uma leitura barata poderia me ser útil. Foi, portanto, com enorme surpresa que me deparei com um livro de qualidade. O livro é basicamente um conjunto de conversas de Assange (Wikileaks), Jacob Appelbaum (Tor) e mais dois caras que não tinha ouvido falar antes. A leitura se torna agradável precisamente pela informalidade: é fantástico ler conversas de pessoas muito inteligentes sobre um assunto que não poderia ser mais interessante no momento em que vemos governos no mundo todo implementando tecnologia de reconhecimento facial e similares para vigiar seus cidadãos. O tom do livro, de modo geral, é otimista. Quem lê, sai com a sensação que ainda dá para fazer algo e, mesmo que não dê, melhor morrer tentando do que ver passivamente a liberdade, como a conhecemos, esvair-se diante dos nossos olhos.
Creio que o livro não vai agradar leitores que procuram uma abordagem didática e esquemática a cerca do movimento cypherpunk e sua evolução histórica, mas, para todos os outros leitores apenas interessados no assunto, recomendo fortemente a leitura.
Profile Image for Sean Rodriguez.
22 reviews
May 13, 2021
Do you remember the scene in Batman The Dark Knight where Batman argues with Lucius Fox about the High Frequency Generator that tracks everyone and everything in Gotham? Do you believe that it is too much power for one person or one company? Well we are living in that world… (This comparison isn’t mentioned in the book)

This book is an ongoing dialogue of different opinions why we aren’t free in a system that tracks out every move through this digital age. The is great debate to push and pull the ideas of decentralized internet and the rebellion of what government has to do with the internet. Very fascinating takes… Definitely, suggest reading this book especially if you believe in Web 3.0 and crypto currency are the future.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amy.
16 reviews
January 9, 2022
picked up this book with skepticism but an open mind. i wanted to like this book but it proved to be difficult. as much as i admire cypherpunks for what they stand for (privacy)... what i can't look past is how much of their ideas lean towards american libertarianism :S

i found some of the intellectual dribble that goes on in this book to be, at times... unbearable. if you're like me and can only tolerate bits of "thinkboi speak", i advise to read this when you're in the mood for it. otherwise, this is a good introduction to cryptography and its speculative potential.
2 reviews
May 13, 2013
Really good book. They talk in the introduction about how they have "seen the enemy." I have to agree this is the reason for most people's complacency about privacy. You really have to get it to understand that we all have to be especially vigilant nowadays. Having seen the enemy helps.

As others have pointed out, the book has an interview-like conversational style with 4 different authors talking back and forth (It's not really just Julian Assange). I kind of liked the spontaneous style. A lot of good issues were brought up concerning Wikileaks, cypherpunks, encryption and privacy in general.

Reading books like this one have helped me come to grips with the fact that things like Wikileaks, the Silk Road, Bitcoin, etc. do not come from a vacuum. Assange has been a cypherpunk for years and was a contributor on the cypherpunk USENET group back in the early 90s. The Dread Pirate Roberts, who runs the Silk Road, wasn't interested in drugs particularly, rather his motivation was the agorism of Samuel Edwark Konkin III. Drugs are just a convenient vehicle to realize this market action independent of the state. Bitcoin has roots going back to papers of David Chaum in the early 1980s. The list goes on.

It's useful to compare cypherpunks/crytpo-anarchy to other movements. Hacktivism a la Anonymous tries to throw a wrench in the gears. Protesters a la Occupy Wall Street beg for redress. Cypherpunks do neither. We strive to create our own temporary autonomous zones independent of state control. If the state deteriorates as a result, it is only by the free choice of people living in its borders to do their own thing. It is the ultimate form of passivism. There is no hunger strike. We just carry on, but under the umbrella of strong technology.
Profile Image for David Dango.
4 reviews9 followers
December 7, 2016
This book, given the way it was born, doesn't meet the mandatory rigours for a technical, non-fictional and political book. Actually it's a free discussion about the importance and the right to privacy on the Internet, about freedom of expression (be it anonymous), between the founders of WikiLeaks. A fundamental problem that bothers is the lack of coherent speech. Sometimes the discussion participants jumping from one idea to another just to win the debate. It is more a café philosophique ("café philo"), very light, like Marc Sautet would say. But what I appreciate most are the presented references with concrete cases - excellent references, with links to a lot of important news - where internet users have been abused by governments and intelligence agencies. An excellent guidebook that makes you understand how vulnerable we become online - not only with every thought and photo shared, but even with every search you do on Google. Filter algorithms colossal obtaining information about them ways of handling. Those are the most powerful economic tools for online marketing or for political manipulations, behind your online activity, tracked by the government, with the false excuse that's all about national security.
Author 1 book10 followers
January 10, 2016
Excelente (e ao mesmo tempo deprimente) livro escrito por Julian Assange (uma das personalidades mais significativas do planeta nos ultimos dez anos) transcrevendo debate com três colegas, ativistas de alguma forma envolvidos com a questão da privacidade na internet, sobre o panorama desolador e Orwelliano do mundo conectado.

Do google ao paypal, do facebook à Amazon (e, mesmo nao sendo citado, o Goodreads também) nossos dados, gostos, preferências, relacionamentos e atitudes sao rigorosamente registrados, armazenados e compilados para serem utilizados pelos detentores do poder ou grandes corporacoes em busca de nossos ultimos centavos. O livro debate a moralidade e a legalidade dessa condição bem como o que fazer para ter alguma forma de privacidade e o que esperar do futuro da internet "madura".

"Cypherpunks" so nao leva as 5 estrelas pelo fato de Jacob, um dos participantes, aparentemente bem abaixo do nivel maturidade política e da inteligencia dos outros co-autores, as vezes destoar negativamente tecendo alguns comentarios irritantes, ou ao menos incompatíveis com o que se espera de alguem com o seu grau de engajamento, principalmente sobre países árabes .
Profile Image for Bianca A..
214 reviews148 followers
May 19, 2020
If you found this book, you are probably either curious about the author or curious about what he stands for. Perhaps the discovery of WikiLeaks got you here or maybe your concerns over privacy.
Regardless of which one it is, this book wont disappoint in exploring that which it promises: freedom, censorship, law, injustice, privacy, and much much more. Cypherpunks are the true advocates of privacy through encryption and the author invests a lot of time in discussions about why privacy is important and how privacy infringements happen everyday, without our awareness or consent.
Although it's hard sometimes to overlook controversy and drama around Assange's name, the things he stands for and truly advocates for are objectively important. It's a shame however that their importance had to be done through such a drastic movement with such heavy consequences.
Anyway, a 5/5 from me and definitely a guaranteed recommend. I enjoyed the structure of the book as well as the message and explanations layout.
3 reviews
December 3, 2016
Certainly an eye-opening narration about the reach and penetration of state surveillance systems in our lives. Although it has now been four years and most of the information about such actions has now become public because of the Snowden revelations, the book still discusses some really good points as to why and how the governments use such systems to control and manipulate citizens. The notion of having one's own private space without being monitored has almost vanished (or is swiftly reaching that stage). One must fend for themselves and gain the proper knowledge to defend against the violation of even basic human rights.

The end-notes of the book were really helpful in some cases. Still, there were some topics in the conversation where some background information might be helpful. It is not a literary piece of art work but a transcript of a discussion amongst four technocrats. Still a recommended read for anyone who is exploring this side of the technology.
Profile Image for Tudor Ștefănescu.
49 reviews2 followers
February 1, 2015
well... you should definitely buy this book - if for nothing else because in this way you support the cause of wikileaks and free internet. Now, don't expect something really spectacular - I found it very "thin" in actual information and insight - it is basically the transcript of a discussion between four computer guys with an interest in social and political activism discussing the state of ... well basically the state of the world. The editing could have been a bit more aggressive(there are things that work in a discussion that don't work in a book), and the participants could have been more focused but it can be a good introduction to the themes of cypherpunk, modern power system, freedom in digital age, etc. If you look for something more deep and more general about society, power, activism - check "Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky" by Noam Chomsky.
Profile Image for Matt Heavner.
865 reviews10 followers
March 11, 2014
Unfortunately, this was simply an unedited discussion among a handful of cypherpunks. It was interesting at times, sometimes utopian, sometimes dystopian, sometimes interesting ideas (cryptography as asymmetric and also as a "natural asymmetry"), sometimes logical, sometimes extreme and paranoid (but perhaps Assange is allowed a bit of that..), and sometimes extremely juvenile. All in all an interesting listen (I did the audiobook). It would have been better to have four distinct readers rather than just one.

This is a good intro/overview, but not necessarily the best. Perhaps a bit too discussion/ad-hoc/stream-of-conscious. But interesting nonetheless.
Profile Image for Valdir S.
64 reviews
February 5, 2015
"This book is not a manifesto. There is not time for that. This book is a warning."
The first and last paragraph of this book are awesome. Since Edward Snowden delated the mass surveillance of NSA, even the more skeptic people started to believe that there's no conspiracy theory, that they are real and occur a decades indeed.
After several hiatus in this last years, I finally finished this book.
I just wish I could be one of those clever rats running around the opera house...at least my sign is rat in the chinese zodiac...if that's any consolation. rsrs
Profile Image for Victor F..
30 reviews4 followers
June 23, 2015
Well, I read this book and what I wanna say in this social network owned by Amazon is... the USA and its big government are just working hard for society's overall welfare, protecting us from child porn, drugs, money laundering, and, sure, keeping the War on Terror. Some secrets must me kept or we simply could not maintain the thin veil of civilization... so... we have to let ourselves to follow the great leaders of this revolution for the family values, freedom and a truth culture of life ^^
Profile Image for Miguel Silva.
24 reviews14 followers
March 26, 2016
Livro fantástico sobre temas atualíssimos ligados à liberdade na internet, procedimentos autoritários do Estado, guerra tecnológica dentro e fora da rede, denúncia ao Estado e às grandes corporações.

Construído de forma colaborativa, transcende o diálogo platônico, que busca uma espécie de conclusão ou convencimento. A concorrência de ideias é apenas uma etapa da colaboração na formação de consenso.
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