This paper interrogates discourses associated with encryption in contemporary policy debates. It traces through three distinct cryptographic imaginaries – the occult, the state, and democratic values – and how each conceptualises what encryption is, what it does, and what it should do. Situating each imaginary in time through historical research, I consider how they foreground distinct configurations of power and authority. It concludes by describing the development of a new cryptographic imaginary, one which sees encryption as a necessary precondition for the formation of networked publics.

West, S.M. (2018). Cryptographic Imaginaries and the Networked Public. Internet Policy Review, 7(2). Retrieved from: