The topic of this article may not meet Bitcoin's general notability guideline. (August 2020)
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Crypto-anarchism (or crypto-anarchy) is a political ideology focusing on protection of privacy, political freedom and economic freedom, the adherents of which use cryptographic software for confidentiality and security while sending and receiving information over computer networks. In his 1988 "Crypto Anarchist Manifesto", Timothy C. May introduced the basic principles of crypto-anarchism, encrypted exchanges ensuring total anonymity, total freedom of speech, and total freedom to trade – with foreseeable hostility coming from States.
One motive of crypto-anarchists is to defend against surveillance of computer networks communication. Crypto-anarchists try to protect against government mass surveillance, such as PRISM, Tempora, telecommunications data retention, the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, Room 641A, the FRA and so on. Crypto-anarchists consider the development and use of cryptography to be the main defense against such problems.
Bitcoin is a currency generated and secured by peer-to-peer networked devices that maintain a communal record of all transactions within the system that can be used in a crypto-anarchic context. Adrian Chen, writing for the New York Times, says the idea behind bitcoin can be traced to The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto. Silk Road was an example of an illegal drug market on which bitcoin was the only accepted currency.
In The Cyphernomicon, Timothy C. May suggests that crypto-anarchism qualifies as a form of anarcho-capitalism:
What emerges from this is unclear, but I think it will be a form of anarcho-capitalist market system I call "crypto-anarchy."
Another quote in the cyphernomicon defines crypto-anarchism. Under the title "What is Crypto Anarchy?", May writes:
Some of us believe various forms of strong cryptography will cause the power of the state to decline, perhaps even collapse fairly abruptly. We believe the expansion into cyberspace, with secure communications, digital money, anonymity and pseudonymity, and other crypto-mediated interactions, will profoundly change the nature of economies and social interactions. Governments will have a hard time collecting taxes, regulating the behavior of individuals and corporations (small ones at least), and generally coercing folks when it can't even tell what continent folks are on!