Crypto and Cypherpunk Ethics

In the early-1990s, the cypherpunks emerged as a grassroots movement simultaneously criticizing the emerging government mass surveillance made possible by the computer revolution and advocating the widespread use of digital encryption as the best means for individuals to protect their personal privacy from such surveillance. This module draws upon cypherpunk and cypherpunk-related ethical analyses of cryptography to explore the ongoing debates involving personal privacy, national security, system/device security, and the meaning of an open society. Through reading, discussion, and small group work, students will develop conceptual and practical knowledge about the ethics of cryptography.


These materials were developed by Patrick Anderson as part of the Mozilla Foundation Responsible Computer Science Challenge. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.