Dug Campbell

Tim May, Cypherpunk & Visionary

There are two kinds of crypto. There’s ‘cool crypto’ (i.e. the whole cryptocurrency movement that’s been with for the last decade or so) and the ‘original crypto’ (arguably even cooler) – the fascinating small niche of society that has been utterly focused on the use of cryptography for an even longer period of time as they battle to create individual sovereignty and build the technological protections that will defend Society’s vulnerable against the overreach of the State.

At the weekend, Tim May, one of the founders of the legendary Cypherpunk Mailing list died.  Writing a long piece on the impact of the cypherpunk movement and why it’s so important is a task for another day – so if you want to hear something about Tim May’s involvement, it’s worth checking out Prof. Bill Buchanan’s post.

In a nutshell though, let’s take Wikipedia’s definition: “A cypherpunk is any activist advocating widespread use of strong cryptography and privacy-enhancing technologies as a route to social and political change.”

It’s amazing to see just how much far reality has morphed today into a world in which May’s visions have become almost commonplace. Incredibly, May wrote The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto back in 1988.

And it’s fascinating to see how May viewed the current Bitcoin scene earlier this year as well:

“I can’t speak for what Satoshi intended, but I sure don’t think it involved bitcoin exchanges that have draconian rules about KYC, AML, passports, freezes on accounts and laws about reporting ‘suspicious activity’ to the local secret police. There’s a real possibility that all the noise about ‘governance,’ ‘regulation’ and ‘blockchain’ will effectively create a surveillance state, a dossier society.

The battleground is still coming into focus – and yet so many still know little of the conflict that’s continuing to take shape. There are only a few whispers now and again. So it might have taken a while. But it’s really only getting started.