The type of fight he's fighting, which, indeed, was foretold by the cypherpunks years before he ever compiled a program, is one of vast asymmetry. He's the source of the quote "the government has a monopoly on violence, but violence can't solve math problems".
The problem is, when you function within an outlawed organization using your above-ground identity, you choose to have your own life destroyed, rendering you unable to be effective in doing the things you talk about being so important. We're talking, here, about a guy who gives sensationalist interviews to Rolling Stone about how he can hack into anything on the internet.
They don't need to break your crypto. They can just break you.
When fighting the surveillance state, you can be famous, xor you can be effective. Period.
I wrote about this some time ago:
Every single person paying attention knows Wikileaks would have been way more effective if it had been fronted by a signing key instead of Julian Assange's haircut. They might have even been able to continue functioning instead of being extrajudicially harassed into oblivion.
These people serve as examples of how _not_ to effect meaningful change.
PS: It also speaks volumes about the current state of the Chaos Computer Club and their conference that they chose such a meaningless sycophant as their keynote speaker.
Wikileaks, with somewhat less rape and insider strife, would have been a more effective organization, true. But a totally anonymous organization on the Internet probably wouldn't have attracted mainstream attention. I doubt dropping the Pentagon Papers today would have had much effect. I mean, 99% of what was in the War Files was essentially known to anyone willing to look, and even people with access wouldn't really read most AARs. It's boring. The controversy actually made more people look at it than would have if Cryptome had FOIA'd it or the DOD just declassified it.
Choosing to do what Jake did (sacrificing his own freedom to promote his agenda) is not something I'd want to do, but we're overall better off that some people are willing to do it. He's never been as technically accomplished as a lot of hackers (probably including Julian Assange), but more than a lot of others, but has been very effective at getting the Tor message out and generally promoting things.
I'd personally rather hang out with people creating technical countermeasures (or, even better, building stuff which is actually expanding human capability, like putting humans on Mars in a decade or extending human lifespan by 20-30 years), but not everyone can do that, and it probably doesn't make sense for everyone to do so.
Keynote talks at conferences rarely have technical content, too.
Just because a cause is right doesn't mean it doesn't need PR/marketing.
There's your biggest misconception about how the media and world/people's attention works right there.
Why do you think no layperson knows what the heck cryptome is, although they have been leaking stuff for far longer than Wikileaks? Why do you think cryptome (probably) hasn't changed anything and hasn't made anyone aware of anything?
You need the most publicity you can get as a leaking platform, as much as it will kill you (by making a person synonymous to the mission and providing an attack window) at the same time. And actual mass publicity will not be generated by putting it out there via bittorrent, which the majority of journalists don't even know about.
They could have performed these tasks using nyms or anonymously, too.
They just wanted to be famous.
2) Those calling themselves anonymous are still operating. Wikileaks is basically paralyzed (which is unfortunate).
3) The Federalist Papers.
4) The Arab Spring revolutions.
2) Wikileaks without a face would not have been possible. When there's somebody prosecuted as viciously as Assange was people understand that something is at stake here.
3) What's that?
4) What about the Arab spring? I think it's a bit out of context in here. Just like Occupy movements.
While I like to give credit to the general public for being insightful, I think the notion of granting first amendment rights to a signing key pushes the limits of what might ever actually happen.
The decentralizing and anti-authoritarian forces of the internet also have the power to legitimize entities that are above ground yet hover outside the reach of traditional jurisprudence (napster, wikileaks, online poker). It's volatile but the stakes are getting higher and the strategies are getting smarter.
The point I think you overlooking is that if Wikileaks is a signing key then it becomes a lot more plausible that the leaked info is contrived and was planted there to achieve a propaganda goal. Like it or not, human authority structures are somewhat necessary to address issues like that. To offer a counterexample, Anonymous could be hijacked by the government far more easily than Wikileaks. I think the ideal social cryptosystem addresses this but does not exist yet, at least at a scale sufficient to have the kind of impact that Wikileaks has had.
Signatures don't generate themselves any more than guns fire themselves. You can't have a key and a signature without a human somewhere responsible for generating it, and that human is entitled to the right of publishing, even anonymously.
The Supreme Court (in the US, anyway) has found that prohibiting anonymous publishing abridges the basic freedom of speech.
95% of his talk was not about crypto.
It's more about listening to people like Jake in general than it is about what his talk says. He's got the wrong motives.
However, you don't get much impact, other than being labelled criminals by working underground in secret.
There seem to be some technical difficulties; I hope the talks end up on YouTube afterward.
Jacob's talk was in English.