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  • Encryption: To put into coded form.
  • Cryptography: the science or study of the techniques of secret writing, especially code and cipher systems, methods, and the like.
  • Crypto-War: The conflicts arising from the US Government + FVEY’s attempts to limit the public’s access to cryptography.
  • FVEY: The Anglosphere intelligence alliance comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

If you’re reading this field guide, which you are, then you’re likely aware that the NSA and its partners have been operating a global surveillance apparatus to spy on American citizens, foreign nationals, various political leaders and pretty much anybody they can bug, tap or hack. But what you may not realize is that these recent revelations are just another chapter in a long, protracted struggle for the control of cryptography.

The primary point of contention is whether or not the government should have back door access to private information so that it may more effectively pursue criminals and terrorists for the stated but altogether murky purpose of security. Governments, in this case specifically FVEY governments, believe they should have unlimited access. But the majority of FVEY citizens disagree. And therein lies the rub.

The most recent skirmish in what has for the last few decades been dubbed “The Crypto-Wars” was Operation Onymous, wherein international law enforcement agents raided high-profile Tor sites such as The Silk Road, Cloud Nine, Doxbin and Pink Meth, seizing assets and making real world arrests.

Flanking from the other side of the siege is anyone who believes in the public’s legal right to encryption, whose interests are most often represented by the actions of hackers, activists and tech firms. Though the latter is a slippery ally at best the best of times, and have been known to turn states and favor profits over ideals.