ⓘ Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse


ⓘ Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse

A play on Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, it refers to types of criminals who use the internet to facilitate crime and consequently jeopardize the rights of honest internet users. There does not appear to be an exact definition for who the Horsemen are, but they are usually described as terrorists, drug dealers, pedophiles, and organized crime. Other sources use slightly different descriptions but generally refer to the same types of criminals. The term was coined by Timothy C. May in 1988, who referred to them as "child pornographers, terrorists, drug dealers, etc." when discussing the reasons for limited civilian use of cryptography tools. Among the most famous of these is in the Cypherpunk FAQ, which states:

8.3.4. "How will privacy and anonymity be attacked?"

  • terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers
  • Newspapers are complaining about the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse

The term seems to be used less often in discussions about online criminal activity, but more often in discussions about the negative, or chilling effects such activity has had on regular users daily experiences online. It is also used frequently to describe the political tactic "Think of the children". A message from the same mailing list states:

How to get what you want in 4 easy stages:

  • Say that the only way to stop perpetrators is to close down "thing", or to regulate it to death, or to have laws forcing en masse tapability of all private communications on "thing". Dont worry if communicating on "thing" is a constitutionally protected right, if you have done a good job in choosing and publicising the horsemen in 2, no one will notice, they will be too busy clamouring for you to save them from the supposed evils.
  • Have a target "thing" you wish to stop, yet lack any moral, or practical reasons for doing so?
  • Scream loudly to the media that "thing" is being used by perpetrators.
  • Pick a fear common to lots of people, something that will evoke a gut reaction: terrorists, pedophiles, serial killers.

The four supposed threats may be used all at once or individually, depending on the circumstances:


1. Examples

In 2013, the director of the Safe Internet League a voluntary censorship group in Russia claimed that pedophiles, perverts, drug dealers" and other creeps” were using the Tor anonymity software, as a reason why the software should be outlawed. This list did not mention terrorists or money-launderers directly, but did use the catch-all phrase "other creeps" that potentially includes them.

In 2015, the UK Conservative party claimed that their proposed" new communications data legislation will strengthen our ability to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and organised child grooming gangs”, echoing the "child pornographers, terrorists, drug dealers, etc." quote of Timothy C. May.

Later in 2015, Gamma Group released a statement claiming that their surveillance technology is used "against terrorist threats, drug cartels, other major organised crime, and paedophile rings." as justification for concerns that it was being used to target opposition politicians and media groups in Uganda. With money-laundering treated as a major organised crime, this quote matches very closely with the list given in the Cypherpunk FAQ.

  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are four beings described in the New Testament s Book of Revelation. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or Four Horsemen
  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos, at Revelation
  • definitions of atheism and the legitimacy of their criticism of religion. Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse a term for Internet criminals, or the imagery of internet
  • 2009. The title was a play on the term Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse Some talk topics included: a survey of unpatched devices connected to the internet
  • irrational individuals to support arguments about the dangers to youth of the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse pirates terrorists, organized crime, and

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