New Criticals

Even more intriguing is the global response that has begun to unfold right under our noses. Many defenders of online civil liberties are now turning to the private sector to protect the common good. Recently incorporated in Switzerland, the Blackphone company intends to release the ‘world's first smartphone that puts privacy and control ahead of everything else’, by building on cutting-edge encryption and anonymization protocols. Dozens of startups are currently building encrypted alternatives to Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook, such as Virtru, the Dark Mail Alliance, Newsbin or Kim Dotcom’s MEGA. Bitcoin’s rise to prominence in 2013 provides another compelling illustration of the push for privatization occurring in areas formerly believed to fall within the trusted government sphere. By drawing on the Bitcoin protocol, the Bitcloud project intends to replace quasi-utilities such as YouTube and Facebook by a network of ‘distributed autonomous corporations’ that would herald a new Internet era and make government interference practically impossible.