ELI40

Privacy, Security, Freedom

▲ ELI5

Privacy means not letting the bad guys spy on the good guys. Sometimes though, the good guys need to spy on the bad guys. That means the good guys should have privacy but it's ok if the bad guys don't. It's all very confusing. Some people think that being a good guys means they have nothing to hide so they don't need complicated secret spy stuff like cryptography. Those people are wrong. Cryptography is not complicated at all! It's also one of the best ways we have to protect our privacy. You don't want the bad guys to spy on you do you?

Security means locking the doors to keep the bad guys out. It also means making sure bad things don't happen. The world has Mommies and Daddies, we call them trusted public authorities. These people are supposed to make sure bad things don't happens. Sometimes though, the Mommies and Daddies make mistakes and let bad things happen. That's what Bitcoin is, it's a way to keep our money safe without having to trust any public authorities.

Freedom is often called an inherent right. That means nobody can tell anybody else what they're allowed to do or say. That sure does sound nice. Unless of course you're a bad guy and you do something we don't like. Or maybe if you have beliefs we don't agree with or say something we find offensive. If you do those naughty things then we will probably make you to stop. Hmm... maybe freedom isn't an inherent right. Who decides who should get freedom and who shouldn't? How do we make sure we have freedom even if the people in charge try to take it away from us?

Privacy, security, and freedom all seem pretty important. It would be bad if someone took them away. Luckily, most people are nice. All we have to watch out for is the tricky bad guys. To stop the tricky bad guys, we have to be smarter than they are. So let's get smarter!

Something about unalienable rights. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That seems to sounds familiar.

This is a three part series. It didn't start as a three part series, it started as a discussion with a friend about the future of Bitcoin. I wanted to learn more about this new currency that some people are so excited about. That was several years ago and at the time I decided Bitcoin was a temporary fad that would slowly disappear. I was wrong.

Around the same time I discovered a mysterious Internet puzzle called Cicada 3301. At first it looked like ridiculous conspiracy theories but the more I looked into it, the more complex it became. In the end, I realized that even the dark parts of the Internet are deceptively important.

Trying to explain all this, I realized how few people understand the basic concept of public-key encryption. It sounds esoteric but is actually very simple. Not only is public-key encryption easy to understand, it's also an extremely important part of modern society. The scary part is that the powers-that-be are trying to take this away from us. In my opinion, that would be a horrible mistake. And impossible.

Do you really need that lock on your front door? Will our politicians keep us safe during the next war or recession? Are we really free to choose our own religion, speak out against the government or do whatever we want to do on the Internet? Let's find out.