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10 Things You Didn't Know about Moxie Marlinspike

Moxie Marlinspike

Moxie Marlinspike is a cryptographer as well as an entrepreneur. He is known for a number of things in his chosen field. For example, Marlinspike is the creator of Signal, which is an encrypted instant messaging service. Similarly, he is a co-author of the encryption used by Signal plus Skype, Whatsapp, and Facebook Messenger.

1. Interested Individuals Might Know Him Better Under a Different Name

Some interested individuals might know Marlinspike better under a different name. After all, Marlinspike isn't Marlinspike's birth name. Instead, that would be Matthew Rosenfeld.

2. Came from Georgia

Marlinspike has a strong interest in privacy. As a result, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that he hasn't been too enthusiastic about releasing his own private information to the public. Still, Marlinspike has revealed that he was born sometime in the early 1980s somewhere in the state of Georgia.

3. Moved to San Francisco in the Late 1990s

Having said that, when Marlinspike was at the age of 18, he moved to the city of San Francisco. This makes sense because the San Francisco Bay Area was the center of the dot-com bubble that started up in the mid 1990s, swelled up throughout the rest of the decade, and then burst in April of 2000. A lot of the companies that came into existence in those times didn't manage to survive. However, there can be no doubt about the fact that the San Francisco Bay Area was the place to be for tech enthusiasts even then.

4. Is an Anarchist

Politically, Marlinspike is an anarchist. For a lot of people, that term conjures up images of violent revolution. However, that is a product of much earlier times when anarchists tended to be treated in a much harsher manner. Curiously, anarchism has seen an upswing in recent decades, not least because it has benefited from anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-globalization sentiments. In any case, anarchists believe pretty much the same thing that they have always believed, which is to say, the abolition of all involuntary forms of hierarchy. Due to historical ties, they are associated with the left wing rather than the right wing because of their far-out-there beliefs and thoughts.

5. Has a Curious Way of Distinguishing Between Liberalism and Anarchism

Marlinspike has a rather curious way of distinguishing between liberalism and anarchism. In short, he has stated that liberalism believes that everyone should be free to talk about the kind of world that they want. After which, interested individuals can pick and choose from the "marketplace of ideas" that has been presented to them. In Marlinspike's opinion, anarchism's take on the matter is that it isn't enough for people to just talk about ideas because interested individuals can't know what something is like unless they have actually experienced or experimented with it. To some extent, there is a sentiment that liberalism pronounces from high-up while anarchism is more grounded and more down-to-earth, which is interesting when a lot of people would associate those kinds of politics with reversed stances.

6. Created Signal to Run on Donations

As mentioned earlier, Marlinspike is a strong believer in privacy. Due to this, he created Signal to run on donations and nothing but donations. This makes sense for the purpose of keeping the non-profit organization focused on its mission. After all, profit has an enormous influence on people for very good reasons, meaning that including profit-making in an organization's operations is bound to cause changes over time. By making Signal reliant upon donations, Marlinspike makes it much more difficult for that to happen.

7. Created Signal in Opposition to Mass Surveillance

Speaking of which, Marlinspike created Signal in opposition to the mass surveillance that is so widespread in modern times. Simply put, both governments and corporations collect a huge amount of information about people, which is a very real resource that can be put to very real uses. A lot of people find that to be unnerving, thus explaining the opposition to mass surveillance. In practice, well, suffice to say that it is much easier to let information be collected than prevent it as much as possible, particularly since most people just don't care enough to go through that much hassle and that much inconvenience.

8. Created Signal with End-to-End Encryption in Mind

As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that Marlinspike created Signal with end-to-end encryption in mind. It doesn't read its users' messages. Furthermore, it doesn't keep either metadata, call logs, or data backups. Due to this, even if Signal wanted to reveal information about its users, it couldn't. Something that was proven when it received a subpoena in 2016 because of a federal grand-jury investigation, which yielded the result that it couldn't provide anything other than the requested phone number's account creation date as well as the last time that it had connected to its servers.

9. Claims that Signal Has No Backdoors

Marlinspike's Signal has claimed that it has no backdoors. For those who are unfamiliar, these are circumvention methods built right into software that can be used to get past encryption. Supporters say that backdoors are helpful for law enforcement's efforts to combat crime. Opponents aren't as willing to put that kind of trust in law enforcement. Furthermore, opponents are fond of pointing out that backdoors can be used by other parties, with examples ranging from the corporations behind the software to malicious individuals who find these backdoors and possess the technical know-how needed to exploit them for personal gain.

10. Enjoys Traveling Using a Wide Range of Methods

It seems safe to say that Marlinspike enjoys traveling using a wide range of methods. For example, he has hitchhiked throughout the United States. Similarly, he has traveled from coast to coast in the same country by riding on freight trains. However, Marlinspike seems particularly fond of sailing, as shown by how he and three friends refurbished a derelict sailboat before sailing it throughout the Bahamas in the mid 2000s.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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