‘Privacy has become a taboo,’ says crypto-anarchist project DarkFi
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon presented one of the first critiques of centralized power in 1848, a few years after the publication of his now classic book. What is property? and a call for the abolition of property and the state. According to Proudhon, any political change would be limited without economic change.
His work is at the heart of anarchism, “a political theory that is skeptical of the justification of power and authority.” according to in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Nearly two centuries later, Proudhon’s thoughts on economics and power are still echoing in society, and the tools of encryption pave the way for parts of the ideal society envisioned in his theory.
Cryptocurrency may be far from its original political principles, but projects resurrecting cypherpunk values are still thriving. One such project is DarkFi, a layer 1 multi-chain protocol for anonymous applications and smart contracts based on zero-knowledge proofs.
DarkFi is “not an enterprise startup. This is a democratic economic experiment, a functioning system for society.” claims his manifest. Cryptoanarchy, according to DarkFi, “is the tactic of using cryptography to create a space of freedom that the powers and monopolies of capital with coercive force cannot penetrate.”
The DarkFi manifest also states that:
“The old model of technology is anti-political because it deprives people of property rights and places it in the hands of a monopoly. The old model by design encourages passivity and indifference, turning people into consumers.”
Behind the project is a team of anarchist coders including Amir Taak, one of the original Bitcoin developers who led the Dark Wallet project before it disappeared in 2015 when it disappeared from the crypto scene to fight in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ( ISIS), trying to introduce the local community to Bitcoin.
A group of pseudonymous DarkFi developers spoke to Cryptooshala in an interview about the project’s testnet and how the crypto industry is evolving amidst privacy issues, bad actors, government oversight and politics. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Cryptooshala (CT): What is DarkFi and what problems does it solve in the crypto space?
DarkFi (DF): DarkFi is a community and movement trying to create systems that empower users, allowing people to protect basic human rights such as the right to privacy, freedom of speech, and the right to interact with each other without intermediaries. Some of these systems are a layer 1 blockchain with privacy by default, an IRC peer-to-peer messaging system with encrypted groups and DMs, and even decentralized collaboration tools for organization, task management, etc.
The crypto space has lost its original cypherpunk values, succumbing to government pressure to impose sanctions and/or implement backdoors so projects can survive. Confidentiality has become a taboo, which in the current environment often leads to forced termination of development in the name of transparency and the prevention of illegal activities. Cryptocurrency will split into two parts: RegFi, an unusable and locked-in paradigm, and DarkFi, a truly free, decentralized and uncensored paradigm. This is what we’re trying to decide, to fight back if you will, to keep the Minuteman in power, not to serve individuals on a golden plate in states and mega-corporations for paper profits.
CT: What came first in the development of DarkFi, the anarchist crypto vision or the need for base-level solutions for multi-chain applications?
DF: With DarkFi, we want to create anonymous and secure cryptography. Like Monero and Zcash for money, DarkFi for apps/smart contracts. We felt that there was a large market and a need to be able to develop decentralized and anonymous financial applications. This has not been possible until now.
“The crypto space has lost its original cypherpunk values, succumbing to government pressure to impose sanctions and/or implement backdoors so projects can survive. Privacy has become a taboo.”
We believe that with privacy by default and maximum anonymity, we will enable people to organize and act in much safer spaces and ecosystems. We are also very inspired by Richard Stallman and the free software movement, which is why (unlike most other crypto stuff) DarkFi is fully licensed under the GNU AGPL and we follow the free software philosophy.
CT: How can encryption technologies help create a balanced environment between personal freedom and government control while avoiding dishonest practices?
DF: Encryption technologies are designed to allow users to “hide things in plain sight”. Oversight, governmental or otherwise, contradicts this, as it allows third parties to “sniff out” what’s inside. People should not cede control of their freedom, especially to the government, which supposedly should work for the person, and not vice versa. By using these technologies, users can protect themselves from attackers trying to track their use.
CT: What role does Web3 play in the future of privacy and public policy?
DF: What is currently called “Web3” is simply becoming a surveillance tool that is being abused more and more by opponents and officials. If this continues, society’s “future privacy” will be close to non-existent, and politics will become a dictatorship where every user and citizen will have to strictly comply so that his oppressors do not consider him undesirable.
CT: How can a cryptocurrency stay true to its core principles when it becomes mainstream and therefore more political?
DF: It feels like the whole mass cypherpunk movement of the early days of Bitcoin has faded away. It is becoming more and more capitalistic and may not be “more political”. In fact, with most projects, it seems like they will do everything in their power to be less political and more “diverse and inclusive”. to a stunning agenda. There are too few projects in the crypto space that are political in nature and have caught my attention.
CT: Does crypto have a future without politics?
DF: Cryptocurrency is not a flashy technology. Ciphers began as a parallel language between generals and kings to keep enemies at bay. They are only visible to senders and recipients. Ciphers were used in antiquity, in the Middle Ages, and breaking ciphers contributed to the development of computers in the last century. They have always been needed.
In this era, communication, work and transactions are the basis of any society that takes place behind the screens. At the other end of the channel lies monitoring and surveillance.
“What is currently called ‘Web3’ is simply becoming a surveillance tool that is being abused more and more by opponents and officials.”
The enemy of cryptography before computers was in foreign territories. Now the enemy is near; crypto creates a parallel and secure space outside of government regulation, sanctions and policies. Cryptocurrency is not against politics; it is used to deter your enemy. The enemies of man with which cryptography is associated are monitoring and surveillance, and the principles of cryptography allow no compromise in securing freedom.
CT: What are the next steps on the DarkFi roadmap?
DF: We just released our initial testnet, so we invite the community to try out the UX and find the bugs we wrote so we can iterate and improve. In terms of future plans, we are branching out in multiple directions when it comes to blockchain. We hope that we can also educate people about the importance of free software and its philosophy. You just can’t do it with open source. Developers and founders need to stop obeying Big Tech and use cryptographic mechanisms to make a profit on their projects and remain independent.
Credit : cointelegraph.com