The cypherpunks dreamed of a world where a person’s information would be revealed only if that individual so desired. A legendary group of cryptographers who came together in the 1990s, they fought back against government attempts to create backdoors to encryption and enforce key escrow. The cypherpunks laid the groundwork for the crypto revolution we see today. But, arguably, says the futurist Dan Jeffries, theirs is a dream deferred. Today, we’re more watched and surveilled than ever and the dominant internet business models are based on a quid pro quo of “your data, their free-services.” Where do we go from here?In an interview for CoinDesk’s “Opinionated” podcast, Jeffries argues that we need to get away from political messaging around privacy. That doesn’t work: Not enough people care about privacy to pay for it and ensure it. Most of us don’t care until intrusions of privacy become material to our well-being.
Instead, we have to make privacy a part of the design of products, whether that’s money transactions or informational ones. “Make privacy the plumbing, not the marketing tagline,” Jeffries says. Relatedly, the “Opinionated” team – Ben Schiller, Anna Baydakova and Danny Nelson – also discuss the failure of the Libra/Diem Facebook/Meta stablecoin project and look at what it means for the future of digital currency.
Does its demise indicate that governments hold the cards when it comes to issuing currencies, or that open-source projects like Bitcoin or Ethereum are more likely to succeed than closed systems like Facebook’s? Tune in to listen to the discussion.
Articles mentioned in this episode:
The Trojan Horse of Privacy by Dan Jeffries Reflecting on Facebook’s Hilarious, Well Deserved Crypto Failure by David Z. Morris
This episode was produced, announced and edited by Michele Musso. Our theme song is by Elision.