A Cypherpunk Privacy Reading List

Privacy matters, as a value and a goal. It matters deeply — even existentially. People often say that privacy is a human right. But why? What makes it so important?

Protecting your privacy can be as simple as closing the door. No one campaigns against the existence of solid wood. But usually it’s not quite that simple, because privacy is more than a practical concern. We find ourselves grappling with questions as contentious as they are ancient: Who has power? Who ought to? How is that power constrained in actuality?

The philosophical and political dimensions of privacy end up affecting the tools that you and I are able to use — often, the tools that we have access to at all.

“Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world,” Eric Hughes wrote in his seminal 1993 manifesto. Privacy hinges on autonomy and consent; it combines both safety and freedom. Hughes and his contemporaries defined the cypherpunk perspective that eventually gave rise to cryptocurrency.

Are you intrigued? The following 16 links compose an eclectic reading list, meant as a convenient starting point for anyone who wants to explore the cypherpunk approach to privacy. If you’re looking for how-to guides, EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense is a great resource, as are the recommendations on the Zcash Community Forum.

Enjoy! 📖

Date Title Author
1988 “The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto” Timothy C. May
1991 “Why I Wrote PGP” Philip Zimmermann
1993 “A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto” Eric Hughes
1995 “Modem Grrrl” Jude Milhon
1996 “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” John Perry Barlow
1996 “A World of Strong Privacy: Promises and Perils of Encryption” David Friedman
1999 “Privacy and Technology” David Friedman
2005 “The Case for Privacy” David Friedman
2011 “Why I’m weird about privacy” Ryan Barrett
2013 “We Should All Have Something To Hide” Moxie Marlinspike
2014 “Shepherd of the Masked” Kazerad
2017 Queer Privacy (book) Sarah Jamie Lewis and contributors
2017 “Your Secret Right to Cash” Peter Van Valkenburgh
2018 “Is (just) some privacy worth anything?” Tony Sheng
2019 “The Case for Electronic Cash” Jerry Brito
2019 “Privacy is power” Carissa Véliz