A fresh start
Since we first came together to start working on this project, as founding members of LunarDAO, we've been well aware of a crucial condition for our work to even start: we need to be fully anonymous. This implies going under pseudonyms to manage all our interactions, both internal and external, accordingly. After weeks of work, we can admit that's no easy task.
Anonymity implies many advantages and disadvantages at the same time.
To start, this choice wasn't easy. We realized that working under pseudonyms means people don't recognize you, and therefore you start with zero reputation. It doesn't matter whether you're big and respected in your field - nobody knows that it's you. This condition deprives you of the credibility you may have previously built, and puts you in the position of redoing everything all over again. It is basically a fresh start full of challenges.
However, with this crediblity trade-off, there are benefits to operating this way.
The issue of privacy
First of all, privacy is a human right. Don't believe in the safety-at-all-costs propaganda. "Give up your privacy so we can protect you from terrorists and pedophiles!", they scream. That's nonsense. We live in a mass-surveilled world. Our location, what we buy, how much money we have, who we talk to and what about - all this data is more or less easily trackable and potentially exposed to those who own the technology we use - or to those who know how to access it.
This Big (Tech) Brother machine is not concerned with anyone's safety. Wars are waged and pioneers are imprisoned in the name of profit and power - nothing as noble as protecting.
For governments, privacy stands in the way of their control over society. For them, surveillance is a useful tool of oppression. The government agents who have a monopoly on violence will seek to maintain this monopoly by any means necessary. They deem anyone that opts out of their system of surveillance as a potential enemy that is up to no good. Propaganda and the corporate media, which is controlled by the state, will use any narrative available to them to create boogeymen. The person looking for more privacy online is regarded with suspicion from government agencies.
For corporations, instead, we are a product - a noticeably valuable one. There have been numerous instances in which large tech companies have been accused of violating users' privacy. To mention a few, in 2018 it was revealed that Facebook had previously allowed the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to access the personal data of tens of millions of its users without their knowledge or consent. This data was then used to target political ads to specific groups of users during the 2016 US presidential election. In 2019 it turned out that Google was tracking the location of users even when they had turned off their location history setting. Or in 2020 it was revealed that TikTok was collecting extensive data on its users, including their device information and location data, and sharing it with the Chinese government.
Our lives are nothing but breadcrumbs on the table of the Silicon Valley corporations. They feast upon the endless flow of Big Data being analyzed. Since privacy is our right, we won't wait for someone to kindly give it to us, as anything given can be taken away.
Do NOT give in to the rhetoric of, “I have nothing to hide.” As Edward Snowden marvelously explained on an evergreen Reddit post:
“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.”
None of us would be likely to appreciate a stranger forcefully entering our house, snooping around and collecting information about us, right? We would perceive it as an intrusion in a personal space. What type of clothes you hang in our wardrobe or what's in our nightstand aren't illegal information, but still we aren't exactly willing to share them with anyone who wants to know - because they're private.
Therefore, why anonymity? Because its self-defense against big tech and government surveillance around the world. It makes it hard for big tech to extract and monetize this personal information. It prevents governments from continuing their bulk data collection and building profiles on their people. More privacy means a change to the status quo — for the better, in our view. Such a change is feared by monopolistic powers. In essence, anonymity — the lunarpunk dark forest — is for the people to live freely.
Indeed, as LunarDAO we aren't alone in our quest for privacy. All around us, anonymity-focused projects and dedicated tools are proliferating. The problem of surveillance isn't unnoticed: many are organizing and working hard to protect society.
Decentralized anonymous organization
P2P distribution and decentralization have been among the fundamental stones of crypto. Over time, cult figures self-claimed to be leaders of the industry (or of some of its parts). We cannot blame only them, as without the blind follow up of a massive amount of people, their influence and impact wouldn't have been so disastrous. We can argue here that the centralized, hierarchical mindset promoted by the state makes people act the same way - uncritically gather behind leaders. We reproduce what we have been taught.
However, this issue will hardly be solved by theoretical analysis only. Taking full anon path is a way to approach the problem we have seen many times. LunarDAO does not stand on cults like Su Zhu, Do Kwon or SBF. This ensures decentralization and democratization, as the founders will be relevant only if the community approves them. Our mission is to propose an organization and offer tools for people to join forces anonymously, autonomusly and in decentralized manner.
Such approach is unfortunately unusual, but that difference offers a slow growth based on trust in the Squad and the code, over a uninformed follow-up of crypto kings. LunarDAO builds on the ideas of Satoshi Nakamoto, to this day an unknown anon bringing an alternative for millions of people.
“Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model”
Our multisignatures are from multiple continents and jurisdictions. This decision is taken to ensure initial trust based on several well known pseudonyms in the space who remain decentralized. An issue we had to address on the launch is to prevent a possibility of large actors (ie FED) to buy a mojority of $LUNAR and attack the treasury. We are happy to find and deploy proposals of a full on-chain implementation post-launch if this thread can be addressed well.
Did we have a choice?
The issue of privacy isn't just a matter of principle: it is about our own safety. It is a shield preventing us from being targeted and repressed. We are very aware of the threats we face as freedom fighters. We know that our struggle for a just cause can lead to prosecution, imprisonment and torture by agents of the state. Our community has witnessed such events many times. We are not afraid of the consequences of our work, and in order to carry it on, we must protect ourselves and our community. In this, we had no choice but to go anon.
The issue of anonymity in political contexts isn't certainly new. Countless activists from different liberation movements around the world have adopted the safety measure of concealing (or even abandoning) their legal identity in favour of a pseudonomous one, under which they are politically active. From the world-wide famous case of Anonymous for what concerns the hacker community, to the very example of Bitcoin founders Satoshi Nakamoto in the crypto space, revolutionaries and activists adopt this strategy on a usual base.
This doesn't even exclusively happen online. Revolutionary women's organization RAWA, to mention one example, has been doing so for decades, to carry on their liberation struggle against Afghan regimes.
Therefore, the real question that should be asked is: why not anonymity?
On criminality and the weight of words
Anonymity is now a taboo, narrated as something only to be for criminals. None of this is true. See the exemplary case of Tornado Cash. Its developer, Alexey Pertsev, is unjustly jailed and the app has been sanctioned for facilitating money laundering. However, the amount of money potentially laundered through TC is way less than what's done 'legally' by banks around the world. This clearly shows how the issue isn't the tech itself; the point is who is in power - institutions, or the people.
The principle of "anything given can be taken away" doesn't only apply to our rights. It also means we can take back the privacy we blindly gave to governments and companies. We can opt out of surveillance, regaining agency over what we want to disclose and what we don't. We can, and therefore must, protect ourselves and our communities. Inform yourself, join forums, come read our research, produce your own. The moonlit night awaits.