An Overview – Crypto Anarchy and Virtual Communities

February 20, 2021


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There is no denying the fact that the mix of robust cryptography and digital network communities will give birth to many changes in the society and economy. Crypto anarchism refers to a kind of anarchism where cryptographically-guarded digital pseudonyms, anonymization technologies, and crypto money are used for circumventing censorship, taxes, and state control. Digital cash being anonymous and untraceable will rule although it may face many practical and technical roadblocks. These technologies threaten governments and make them take up measures to limit use of crypto.

Crypto anarchy is essentially freeing people from governments and for the libertarians; robust crypto is the means to avoid the government. Modern crypto goes beyond using simple codes that were used for keeping communications secret, and is used for authenticating messages, concealing messages, digital time-stamping documents, etc. Virtual communities refer to networks of groups or individuals that are not linked geographically but they are as community-like as regular physical communities. For instance, the Boy Scouts and Catholic Church are virtual communities that can go beyond borders and create allegiance or a sense of belonging. Corporations are also examples of virtual communities which will be almost at par with nation-states. Laws limited crypto use has been ignored by corporations in France and Philippines. Gaining access to such communities’ internal operations is challenging and you will need electronic surveillance for monitoring these. Such virtual communities tend to adopt encryption technology. Those keen to limit civilian use of crypto argue that encryption is being used by evil-doers like terrorists and child pornographers.

When a network is transparent it means that it can be seen by outsiders, like those in the intelligence community and law enforcement. In police states like China or Iraq, transparency is a norm. Here, communication channels used to be tapped but it has become hard to continue this after communism collapsed.  Unless nodes and links can be forced to remain transparent, private communications will continue and crypto anarchy may happen.

It only indicates freedom from outside coercion. Crypto anarchy does not mean lawlessness, as anarchy commonly implies. It only indicates the free market ideology of libertarians that allow unforced economic transactions. Avoidance of forced transactions implies avoidance of laws and taxes that dictate who you can sell to. Today, stopping data from crossing borders is futile because national boundaries are more transparent than ever.

As far as true names are concerned, people are keen to know these to ensure traceability. Yet, you will find that pseudonyms are often used especially by performers and artists. It is non-forge ability that makes the difference and crypto can guarantee this.

Espionage cannot be stopped because anyone with access to computers and Internet can use methods to communicate anonymously and securely. Any information, whether it is religious, medical, or illegal in some countries, can be obtained by those keen to get it through their access to anonymous messaging systems. They can buy such information with digital cash.

Most Internet users now see themselves as members of virtual communities instead of as members of governed entities. Information can be sold and bought anonymously and even used in the real-world. This is why many thinkers have been arguing in favor of restrictions on use of crypto tools. There is fear that untraceable digital cash and anonymous system can even plan crimes like contract killings. A complete conversion to “cyberspace” may not happen soon because most people are still ignorant of the methods. But for many the Internet is very much a reality, a place where they negotiate businesses, make friends, and use crypto anarchy tools.