To an extent, that cold civil war has always been with us. The printing press empowered people to spread ideas far beyond the reach of the busiest censors. Firearms gave individuals a fighting chance against trained muscle in the pay of the local powers that be. But technology throughout the 20th century was more often seen as giving an advantage to the state: spy cameras, tanks, and computer databases seemed to point to a future of "a boot stamping on a human face, forever," as George Orwell so gloomily put it in 1984. But in recent years the tide has turned. The massive computers that were supposed to regiment society turned into PCs and then laptops and then mobile devices that could run encryption software, "mine" Bitcoins, and design forbidden objects for individuals.
The personal computer itself aside, the first modern breakthrough may have come with encryption. At a time when tough cryptography of any type was considered a "munition" and subject to strict export controls, Phil Zimmerman created Pretty Good Privacy and uploaded it to the Internet for anybody who cared to make their email and other messages unreadable by anyone but the intended recipient. (Zimmerman allegedly intended his invention only for U.S. distribution, but even then the online world ranged far and wde.) Furious American officials opened a criminal investigation against Zimmerman, but the cat was out of the bag long before that investigation concluded without charges, though it was undoubtedly gratifying when the courts ruled that cryptographic source code is protected by the First Amendment.
Read more: http://reason.com/archives/2013/05/07/in...ology-give