Crypto War II: Birth of Decentralized System

By xuanling11 | Crypto Learning | 14 Sep 2021

Crypto War I did end without any conclusion about how encryption technology a citizen can use to protect their privacy right or it may jeopardize national security.

Until the second war is breaking out by the government to introduce “Clipper Chip”.


What is a “Clipper Chip”?

It is a state-of-the-art built-in backdoor device that was introducing in 1993 to allows governments particularly law enforcement officials to able to decode intercepted voice and data transmissions.  

It allows the government to store each citizen’s data in the pool. It triggered widespread opposition.


Technical vulnerabilities

Matt Blaze published the paper pointed out the technical vulnerabilities of Clipper Chip by producing Brute-force attacks to produce another value and disable the device.


End of Clipper Chip

The device died in 1996 without any possible implementation. 


The less known war happened in 1991

Phil Zimmermann created software called Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) program. The program was so great that it got much attraction overseas and he got the prosecution from the government. 


What is PGP?

PGP can both send encrypted emails and encrypting sensitive files. It allows users who never met before to send encrypted messages to each other without exchanging private encryption keys. Does it sound too familiar? Like Bitcoin?!


The U.S. president hated so much

Back then Senator Joe Biden or the current U.S president argued that encryption did not provide for government access may be outlawed. Does it imply the crypto war is coming again?


Birth of Cypherpunk movement

Cypherpunk was created around the 1970s. It got more attraction after the previous two crypto wars. People in Cypherpunk had already proposed multiple Bitcoin liked digital cash. Also, many members have revealed theirs identifies but some of them have never revealed- like Satoshi Nakamoto. 


Birth of Bitcoin

In 2009, Bitcoin was born secretly that announce to the world privacy matters and one can freely transact payment around the world without “third party” interference.


Why the government doesn’t care about Bitcoin anymore

The U.S. government has built a network to surveillance the whole world through Boundless Informant and not until Edward Snowden leaked the information in 2013. There is a global surveillance program that has existed since the 1970s when Cypherpunk was formed. So those people aren’t a bunch of nerds wearing a tinfoil hat.


Too optimistic

The internet has evolved too and our data is now being controlled by corporations. Just like what Zimmermann described in his own law, 


“The natural flow of technology tends to move in the direction of making surveillance easier", "the ability of computers to track us doubles every eighteen months".


In conclusion

You can read it as science fiction or you may wonder where is the third crypto war. It is coming and stays tuned!

Photo by Gritt Zheng on Unsplash

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