Collected quotes on privacy, privacy freedom & privacy crypto

[updated 5/25/2018]

This post collects quotes on privacy, privacy freedom, and privacy crypto. Although the topics are heavy, I’m having fun putting this post together as I read Julian Assange, the Cyphernomicron, and the words of historic cryptography figures such as Eric Hughes and Hal Finney.

This post is a work in progress, and will be updated as new, interesting, and/or historic privacy-related quotes or phrases come my way. If you have something to add, let me know!

John Perry Barlow:

  • “Antisovereign and unregulatable, the Internet calls into question the very idea of a nation-state.” – John Perry Barlow
  • “You can have my encryption algorithm when you pry my cold dead fingers from my privatekey.” – John Perry Barlow

the Cyphernomicron:

  • “Cypherpunks acknowledge that those who want privacy must create it for themselves and not expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant them privacy out of beneficence.” – the Cyphernomicron
  • “Use of crypto = right to speak as you wish.” – the Cyphernomicron
  • “The Crypto Anarchy Principle: Strong crypto permits unbreakable encrypion, unforgeable signatures, untraceable electronic messages, and unlinkable pseudonomous identities. This ensures that some transactions and communications can be entered into only voluntarily. External force, law & regulation cannot be applied. This is ‘anarchy,’ in the sense of no outside rulers and laws.” – the Cyphernomicron
  • “Crypto allows a return to contracts that governments cannot breach.” – the Cyphernomicron
  • “Crypto is about the creation & linking of private spaces…” -the Cyphernomicron
  • “Assume your opponent knows everything except the secret key.” – the Cyphernomicron
  • ” … Cryptography will cause the power of the state to decline, perhaps even collapse abruptly … Secure communications, digital money, anonymity & pseudonymity, will profoundly change economies” – the Cyphernomicron
  • “Why is crypto so important?” – “The three elements that are central to our modern view of liberty: – protecting things against theft – proving who we say we are – expecting privacy in our conversations and writings…” – the Cyphernomicron
  • “What are Cypherpunks interested in?” – ” -privacy – technology – encryption – politics – crypto anarchy – digital money – protocols…” – the Cyphernomicron
  • “The philosophy of liberty is based on self-ownership.” – the Cyphernomicron
  • “If encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will have encryption.” -the Cyphernomicron
  • “Laws about privacy often take away the privacy rights of others. Given that there is no requirement for identity to be associated with money, we should fight any system which proposed to link the two.” – the Cyphernomicron

David Chaum:

  • Chaum’s warning to the World in 1985: “Computerization is robbing individuals of the ability to monitor and control the ways information about them is used…”
  • “Keeping confidential who sends which messages, in a world where any physical transmission can be traced to its origin, seems impossible…” – David Chaum, 1988
  • “Computerization,” he lamented in 1985, “is robbing individuals of the ability to monitor and control the ways information about them is used.” – Chaum
  • “The foundation is being laid for a dossier society, in which computers could be used to infer individuals’ life-styles, habits, whereabouts, and associations from data collected in ordinary consumer transactions.” Such an outcome, Chaum suspected, would be unacceptable to many.

Eric Hughes:

  • “The most important means to the defense of privacy is encryption.” – Eric Hughes
  • “We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.” – Eric Hughes, A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto, March 1993
  • “Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.” – Eric Hughes, A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto, March 1993
  • “I desire a society where all may speak freely about whatever topic they will. I desire that all people might be able to choose to whom they wish to speak and to whom they do not wish to speak.” – Eric Hughes
  • “The government has no right to restrict my use of cryptography in any way. They may not forbid me to use whatever ciphers I may like, nor may they require me to use any that I do not like.” – Eric Hughes, 1993-06-01
  • “Should there be any limits whatsoever on a person’s use of cryptography?” – “No. Using the mathematics of cryptography is merely the manipulation of symbols. No crime is involved, ipso facto.” -Eric Hughes
  • “I desire systems which do not require violence for their existence and stability. I desire anonymity as an ally to break the hold of morality over culture.” – Eric Hughes, 1994-08-31
  • “The Dept. of Treasury doesn’t want untraceable transactions.” – Eric Hughes, Cypherpunks list, 1994-8-03

Hal Finney:

  • “One Cypherpunk vision includes the ability to engage in transactions anonymously, using ‘digital cash’, which would not be traceable to the participants.” – Hal Finney, 1993-02-23
  • “If we want freedom and privacy, we must persuade others that these are worth having.” – Hal Finney, POLI: Politics vs Technology, 1994-01-02

Sandy Sandfort:

  • “What is important is that Cypherpunks take personal responsibility for empowering themselves against threats to privacy.” – Sandy Sandfort, 1994-07-08
  • “The important issue for Cypherpunks is how we should respond to this seemingly inevitable increased mobility of capital. Does it pose a threat to privacy? If so, let’s write code to thwart the threat. Does it offer us any tools we can use to fight the efforts of nation-states to take away our privacy? If so, let’s write code to take advantage of those tools.” – Sandy Sandfort, Decline and Fall, 1994-06-19

Edward Snowden:

  • “Freedom of speech doesn’t have a lot of meaning if you can’t have a quiet space. A space within yourself, within your mind, within the community of your friends, within your home, to decide what it is you actually want to say.” – Edward Snowden
  • “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” – Edward Snowden


  • “Information, technology & control of both IS power. *Anonymous* telecommunications has the potential to be the greatest equalizer in history. Bringing this power to as many as possible will forever change … this country & the world” – Miszewski
  • “Crypto-anarchism is a cyber-spatial realization of anarchism in an effort to protect their privacy, their political freedom, their economic freedom” – @AnarchoPirate
  • “Obscurity is no substitute for strong random numbers.” – Eli Brandt, 1994-07-03
  • Talley v. State of California_, 362 U.S. 60, 64-65, 80 S.Ct. 536, 538-539 (1960) : “Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind. Persecuted groups and sects from time to time throughout history have been able to criticize oppressive practices and laws either anonymously or not at all.”
  • “Even the Federalist Papers, written in favor of the adoption of our Constitution, were published under fictitious names. It is plain that anonymity has sometimes been assumed for the most constructive purposes.” – Greg Broiles, 1994-04-12
  • “Designers of the new Information Age were inspired by noble dreams of free-flowing data as a global liberating force, a true democratizing agent. Sadly, the crooks & creeps also climbed aboard. The time has come for much tighter computer security.” – LA Times, 1994-07-13
  • “Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn’t be the price we accept for just getting on the Internet” – Gary Kovacs
  • “Our lives are being converted to data.” – Garry Kasparov
  • “Once you’ve lost your privacy, you realize you’ve lost an extremely valuable thing.” – Billy Graham
  • “Information technology in producing a clearing in which individuals and corporations are key players besides government. Any attempt by government to control the flow of information over networks will be ignored or met with outright hostility.  There is no practical way that government can control information except information directly involved in the business of governing.  It should not try.” – Peter Denning, PUBLIC POLICY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY, DRAFT 1/22/92
  • “Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen’s mail” – Henry Stimson
  • “Those who are willing to trade freedom for security deserve neither freedom nor security.” Ben Franklin
  • “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” – Gabriel García Márquez
  • “The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what they [the government] do: that’s why they’re called public servants. They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals.” – Glenn Greenwald
  • “We must all have the right to disappear.” – Dave Eggers, “The Circle”
  • “I am under no moral or other obligation…to publish to the World how much my expenses or my incomes amount to yearly.” – John Adams, 20 August, 1770
  • “Actually, unmasking your real identity could be the ultimate collateral. Your killable, torturable body. Even without kids, you’ve got a hostage to fortune — your own meat.” – unknown
  • “As ever more economic activity is drawn into cyberspace, the value of the state’s monopoly power within borders will shrink. Bandwidth is destined to trump the territorial state.” – Rees-Mogg and Davidson
  • “The American people keep claiming in polls that they want better privacy protection, but the fact is that most aren’t willing to do anything about it: it’s just a preference, not a solid imperative.” – L. Todd Masco, 1994-08-20