Things weren’t always this way. It began so gradually. At first, we barely knew it was happening. As it took off, it kept us distracted with digital wonders we could never have imagined, offered to us before we even realised that we needed them, or what we were sacrificing — and all of this for “free”. By the time it pervaded every corner of our lives, we had all but forgotten it was there. Occasionally it missed the mark, or, in its eagerness to please, showed us too soon the thing we had only just mentioned to a friend a minute ago. We wince, perhaps even shiver at the thought that someone might be listening to our conversations, but then we laugh it off and get on with the day. After all, we can’t change the system. And every hour, every year, it comes to know us a little better, learning from its mistakes. Watching. Waiting. Never stepping out of the shadows, instead choosing to remain out of sight and out of mind. But it’s always there, and what it knows about us we have no way of learning, nor how it came to know these things, what it has bought or sold using our personal information, or whom it serves.
Enough is enough.
We live in a world of pervasive sensors, mobile devices, and digital services that exist to capture vast amounts of information about us every minute of our lives. Fed to an army of proprietary and often biased algorithms that we have no legal right to examine, our data might be used to determine if we are “eligible” for a job, a loan, a lease or a medical procedure. This has become the greatest accelerator of income inequality the world has ever seen, enabling the wealthy to line their pockets with untold and undeclared riches, while creating new digital divides. At the same time, hacks and leaks of our personal information that we cannot defend, are being stolen from ill-defended systems. Such attacks have become so commonplace that they are no longer cause alarm, and seldom are there consequences for the companies responsible.
“All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.”
Instead, we have seemingly come to accept that governments and companies record and mine every conversation, every search query, every website we visit, and every purchase we make, and we console ourselves with the benefits they offer in exchange. But one must ask why they need to know everything about us? Is it to prevent a catastrophe, or to spot dissent among us? Political leaders remind us that our technologies can be used against us, that dangerous times require extraordinary measures, and that we must establish a new social contract. Nevertheless, privacy remains a privilege for those who are loyal, and it is always conditional. Anonymity is a mask for criminals. Encryption must have back doors, at least that is what we are told.
Not on our watch.
“The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what they [the government] do: that’s why they’re called public servants. They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals.”
― Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, 2013
Privacy matters. That’s why it was recognised as fundamental in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Privacy is our ability to control what other people know about us. It is part of human nature. It is an innate, instinctive ability. Even before we learn to speak, we discover our power to choose when to share our feelings with others. Privacy is, therefore, more than a mere privilege: it is both the means of maintaining our liberty, and the price that we pay for it.
Anonymity also matters. Anonymity depends on our ability to conceal our identity from others. Without it, democracy cannot exist since information is power — and a government that knows what its citizens are doing in their own homes, has distorted the balance of power and shifted the very nature of accountability from a situation where they are answerable to the people, to one in which they are not. In this inverted world of information asymmetries, the public mask of anonymity is the last recourse of the whistle-blower, and the greatest force for accountability that an individual may wield against the might of a corporation flush with ill-gotten gains or a corrupt government that no longer represents those for whom it was created to serve.
“He handed Mae a piece of paper, on which he’d written, in crude all capitals, a list of assertions under the headline “The Rights of Humans in a Digital Age.” Mae scanned it, catching passages: “We must all have the right to anonymity.” “Not every human activity can be measured.” “The ceaseless pursuit of data to quantify the value of any endeavour is catastrophic to true understanding.” “The barrier between public and private must remain unbreachable.” At the end she found one line, written in red ink: “We must all have the right to disappear.”
― Dave Eggers, The Circle, 2013
Time, however, is not on our side, for an entire generation has grown up with a sense that the battle is already lost. More and more, we hear attempts to rationalise the situation, with remarks like: “Why do I care what they know — I have nothing to hide”, or a sense of helplessness: “I gave up worrying about it a long ago — what can I do about it?”. Many have simply come to believe that privacy is dead, an antiquated notion that has no meaning in the modern world.
Some may hope that courageous politicians and conscientious business leaders emerge to rein in the synergistic forces of government surveillance and surveillance capitalism before they can completely erode the foundations of our freedom, dignity, and rule of law.
Some, however, may not.
“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
― Edward Snowden, 2015
We created Tangram with a singular vision: to inspire, mobilise and empower a new generation of cypherpunks to rise up, take matters into their own hands, and reclaim our right to privacy while there is still time. It is a time for urgent action; it is a time for:
Acts of privacy.
Acts of cryptography.
Acts of code.
Our mission is to create the most private distributed ledger technology the world has ever seen, one that is provably impervious to re-identification attacks. It must be fast, feeless, and infinitely scalable. Tangram will function as a true distributed network and protocol, while supporting other capabilities such as tamper-proof smart contracts, data storage, and communications.
Tangram is a one of the first projects that is committed to combining cutting-edge engineering, compelling user experiences, and branding built from scratch for a vibrant community. Tangram will be the solution you know you can trust to safeguard your identity, data, business, and rights in a world of prying eyes.
“We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. We must come together and create systems which allow anonymous transactions to take place. People have been defending their own privacy for centuries with whispers, darkness, envelopes, closed doors, secret handshakes, and couriers. The technologies of the past did not allow for strong privacy, but electronic technologies do.
We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems. We are defending our privacy with cryptography, with anonymous mail forwarding systems, with digital signatures, and with electronic money.”
― Eric Hughes, The Cypherpunk Manifesto, 1993
To get there, we will need people everywhere to join our defence of the right to privacy, and to work together to create a safer, more just, and more prosperous future for all.
To be successful, we must educate people about the nature privacy, ensuring that we replace perceptions of secrecy, with emboldening ideas about dignity and respect.
Tangram (TGM) is a global project that aims to inspire, mobilise, and empower a new generation of free, instant, and secure digital payments and services. By combining cutting-edge open-source engineering, compelling user experiences, and branding, we’re working to create the world’s most private distributed ledger network for a community that values principles of equality and shared prosperity.
Our network and platforms are built with security that is not only useful for governments, financial institutions, and multinational corporations, but also yields zero-compromise solutions for the everyday individual.
Our commitment to research and development means that we’re also constantly looking for new ways to enhance security in the age of data, with the long-term aim of establishing a disruptive and revolutionary network of integrated financial and modern communication-based products, services, and partnerships, that advance privacy as a universal human right.
If you’re interested, have questions and feedback:
Visit the repo: https://github.com/tangramproject
Visit the website: www.tangrams.io
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