Cypherpunks

  • by Julian Assange
  • Narrated by Tom Pile
  • 4 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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, 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.

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What the Critics Say

"Cypherpunks is gripping, vital reading, explaining clearly the way in which corporate and government control of the Internet poses a fundamental threat to our freedom and democracy." (Oliver Stone)
"Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet is an important wake-up call about a possible dystopian future, which is a technological reality now.... While messengers of dangerous outcomes are always met at first with hostility and even mockery, history shows that we disregard such warnings as these at our peril." (Naomi Wolf)
"Obligatory reading for everyone interested in the reality of our freedoms." (Slavoj Žižek)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Paranoia or Prescience?

Like Assange himself, I think this book will strongly divide people. It certainly aroused conflicting feelings in me.

It starts with a stark warning. We are sleepwalking into a surveillance society, of constantly being watched, where every detail of our lives, everything we say or write, every website we visit, our histories, preferences, misdemeanours and even gossip about us, are collected and stored by corporations and governments - essentially forever. This is contrasted with an increasing cloak of secrecy surrounding those with power, as they increasingly take control of the infrastructure of the Internet. This is the very opposite of the liberation the old style hackers and cypherpunks envisaged for the Internet.

Following that dramatic introduction, the majority of the book is a four way discussion on the implications of this. At times it verges on the paranoid, at other times it is like four blokes down the pub, speculating on possibilities for a future dystopia.

Several themes recur: the "Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse" are the rationale used by governments to justify increasing surveillance and censorship, which the book repeatedly seems to ridicule.

Here I started to have my doubts, for these seem to me serious societal problems, and perhaps the price of more security, is more surveillance - and that is a price worth paying.

Moreover, the strong recommendation of universal personal encryption measures, to evade surveillance, such as TOR for anonymous surfing, BitCoin for anonymous financial transactions, encrypted email clients etc. left me wondering why I would want to go to such lengths to hide what I see, buy, or write. Id be a little bemused if MI5 took a serious interest.

Then I read about Justin Carter, who was arrested and held for 5 months in Texas as a potential terrorist for making a sick joke on Facebook, and government starts to look less benign and more paranoid, and oppressive - and I concede that maybe Assange is on to something. As I write this the UK government is planning universal censorship by ISPs by default.

So, it's a worrying book, the narration is pitched just right, and it left me thinking seriously about the whole area of security, freedom, censorship and surveillance. That can only be a good thing.
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- Jim Vaughan

MUST READ: Good to know what's really going on?

It's better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have one, if you know what I mean? As we're all in on it together if we like it or not!
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- lance rolls "Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-06-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios