IEET > GlobalDemocracySecurity > Former > Cyber
Sad News: IEET Affiliate Len Sassaman Has Died
Jul 5, 2011  

Thirty-one years old, Len was an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET since 2010. He was an internationally acclaimed cypherpunk and privacy advocate, a PhD candidate at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and a researcher with the COSIC research group. Suffering from depression, Len ended his own life on July 3, 2011.

Len SassamanLen worked on privacy enhancing technologies and anonymous communication systems such as the open source Mixmaster remailer software. He worked for Network Associates on the PGP encryption software, was a member of the Shmoo Group, a contributor to the OpenPGP IETF working group, the GNU Privacy Guard project, and often appeared at technology conferences like DEF CON. He was the cofounder of CodeCon along with Bram Cohen, coauthor of the Zimmermann-Sassaman key-signing protocol, and was an organizer of the protests following the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov.

Recounting their early work together on crypto-systems, Len’s friend Pablos Holman said that they were “reimagining our world, riddled with cryptosystems that would mathematically enforce the freedoms that we treasured. Anonymous remailers to preserve speech without fear of retribution; onion routers to ensure nobody could censor the internet; digital cash to enable a radically free economy.”

Our condolences to Len’s widow, the computer scientist Meredith Patterson.

More on Len at Wikipedia


truly sad news. It’s regretful that the old will have to send someone so young.
It’s a reminder that having a knowledge in transhumanism doesn’t make us in any way a perfect human. Depression in a transhuman age is quite possible—new solutions begets new problems.

Is his DNA on file? if he was as good as you say he was, Len ought to be re-animated in some way.

He will be surely missed by those of us in the computer hacking and phone phreaking scenes. He was a regular attendee at Def Con. A darn shame. My condolences to his family.

@post-post: Ignorant comments like yours give thoughtful transhumanists a bad name.


Some of you knew Len, so those of you who did might possibly know what preparations he made years before; might know some of his kin—and they might know. I never heard his name before this piece.

Haig, I was told having a record of yourself means it is conceivable you can be re-animated in some form in the distant future: as with cryonics, “the second worst thing that can happen to you” is to leave no record of yourself. So I asked about Len; you needn’t be so exercised.
BTW, it isn’t that transhumanism has a bad name because of one-sentence comments made at sites such as IEET. As far as can be determined without actually reading the public’s mind, doubts exist concerning transhumanism for reasons (for starters) revolving around religious/spiritual sentiments and that which is related.

What a tragedy.  I am so sad to hear this.  I corresponded with Len and Meredith a little through Lifeboat Foundation.  My condolences to Meredith and their families.

YOUR COMMENT Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Some Brief Thoughts on How to Ensure a Good Future

Previous entry: Hank has a new book out