This article was first published on Dr. Craig Wright’s blog, and we republished with permission from the author. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, and Part 24.

The Claims of Cypherpunk Activists

Many cypherpunk activists claim bitcoin as their own (Golumbia, 2016). In their analysis, the authors take the crypto anarchy and concept of virtual communities promoted by Tim May and integrate the concept of digital money promoted by the same author (May, 1994). This analysis is then extended by authors such as Anderson (2022, p. 22), who argues that bitcoin allows “cypherpunks to implement transparency for the powerful.” Yet, this analysis misrepresents the goal of bitcoin, which differs from the cypherpunk ideal of seeking secrecy and not transparency.

bitcoin in the Cypherpunk Movement

Tim May (1994), in founding the cypherpunk movement, claimed “no “laws.” No single nation controls the Net, no administrative body sets policy.” Yet, this perspective is beyond foolish, with various regulations enforced in each jurisdictional region. Hughes (2002, p. 363) demonstrated the fallacy of this position, noting that “the convergence of legal norms being produced or prompted by the Internet is remarkable and remarkably fast paced.”

Redefining Legal Action and Political Mandates

The position of May (1994) fails to account for discrepancies in regulation in law. While differences in legal interpretation across jurisdictions can make it difficult for consumers to understand their rights, this fails to mitigate regulations and, unlike the path promoted by the cypherpunks, leads to more and not less regulation. Ahram et al. (2017) note that increasing regulation globally has occurred as cybercrime and fraud have increased, which has jointly inhibited the expansion of business opportunities and technology.

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Understanding the Relationship Between Internet and Law

Unfortunately, the approach taken by May (1994) has undermined the concept of legal action and political mandates within software development circles. While many internet pundits and those associated with silicon valley continue to promote the idea of the internet being open and outside of regulation, as Timothy Wu demonstrated early on, the world of code does not replace the world of law (Wu, 2003).

Annotated Bibliography

Anderson, P. D. (2022). Cypherpunk Ethics: Radical Ethics for the Digital Age. Taylor & Francis

Hughes, J. (2002). The Internet and the Persistence of Law. Boston College Law Review, 44(2), 359–396.

Ahram, T., Sargolzaei, A., Sargolzaei, S., Daniels, J., & Amaba, B. (2017). Blockchain technology innovations. 2017 IEEE Technology & Engineering Management Conference (TEMSCON), 137–141.

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