McAfee to seek presidency under Cyber Party banner

mcafeeJohn McAfee, founder of computer antivirus software company McAfee Associates and computer security device firm Future Tense Central, has announced he will seek the presidency in 2016 as the candidate of the Cyber Party. His website went live Tuesday evening.

According to CNN, McAfee said he “decided to run after being encouraged by ‘almost everyone’ he knows and meets.” He said, “I have a huge underground following on the web. I promise you I will win because I have the votes.”

He said privacy will be the centerpiece of his campaign, saying, “We are losing privacy at an alarming rate — we have none left. We’ve given up so much for the illusion of security and our government is simply dysfunctional.” McAfee said the U.S. government “lacks an understanding of the basic technology that runs the world.”

McAfee’s wealth peaked at about $100 million before the 2008 financial crash. It is now estimated at about $4 million.

46 thoughts on “McAfee to seek presidency under Cyber Party banner

  1. Jed Ziggler

    Fascinating. Certainly didn’t see that coming. Raises several questions: Is this a real candidacy or a publicity stunt? What is the Cyber Party? Is it a real party or a throwaway ballot line? What is McAfee’s plan for ballot access? Where does McAfee stand politically? Will his campaign ads be as annoying as his product’s update reminders?

  2. Andy Craig

    Other articles I’ve seen describe it as a new party he intends to found.

    “n August, McAfee was arrested for DUI and possession of a handgun while he was under the influence. He said the case was still pending and would be back in court in November. He said it wasn’t alcohol but Xanax that made him “dysfunctional” — a claim he said would be supported by the blood test.

    McAfee also made news in January 2014 when he fled police in Belize who sought to question him for the death of his neighbor.”

    Well that’s interesting. Kind of sounds like he’s a bit off his rocker since his namesake software company was sold. But I’ll take him out there campaign as a single-issue privacy candidate, over Lawrence Lessig campaign as a single issue campaign finance restriction candidate.

    I’ll be surprised if he manages to get the Cyber Party on a majority of state ballots, though. If he’s going to go through with it he should pick a better party name, “Cyber” sounds goofy and dated. “Privacy Party” or something like that would be much better, or even “Technology Party” or “Software Party.”

  3. Thomas L. Knapp

    I’ll be interested to see what his campaign platform is like. If it’s good, perhaps he can be talked into seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination instead of going it alone.

  4. Andy Craig

    While he does have some modicum of name recognition, what the article says about his net wealth is also interesting if true. From $100 mil to $4 mil in ~7 years is a pretty big wipe-out in a short period of time, even with the 2008 financial crash. There’s presumably more to that story than just bad luck at the stock market.

    That figure would place him currently in the same range as Johnson and Ventura (and maybe even Feldman, given his prestigious medical career) – comfortably in “the 1%”, but a far cry from super-ultra-rich or mega-billionaires like a Perot or Trump or Bloomberg. Maybe enough to partially self-fund a modest campaign, but probably not enough to fund a new-party nationwide ballot access drive.

    But I agree if his platform is good and his personal baggage isn’t too much (jury’s still out on that), then inducing him to run as a Libertarian (or even accept a VP nomination) is not necessarily out of the question. Not very likely, but definitely worth considering and possibly reaching out to him about.

  5. David Cox

    If it’s available, go listen to his interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast from a few years back. I remember him coming off as very strange.

  6. I Will Refuse

    Three cheers for John McAfee’s campaign announcement!

    I’ll be surprised if he manages to get the Cyber Party on a majority of state ballots, though. If he’s going to go through with it he should pick a better party name, “Cyber” sounds goofy and dated. “Privacy Party” or something like that would be much better, or even “Technology Party” or “Software Party.”

    …And that’s the reason why the general public views the Libertarian Party as completely inept. They literally have no idea how to engage any portion of the public, and are paralyzed with fear and incompetence. Nothing could possibly be more pulseless than “software party.” Well, except maybe the actual “Libertarian” Party under the direction of Redpath(Bonner) and Kohlhaas(Bonner). Expert outreach, the public has vaguely heard of “Liberal-aryans!” or “libbuh-terrans” …after only 35 years of concerted “on again, off again” masturbation with a laser-like focus of delusional candidates on unwinnable races.

    If I had one piece of advice for McAfee, it would be to call up the members of the LNC, Bill Redpath, and Scott Kohlhaas, and ask them all for strategic advice. Then, do the exact opposite.

    As far as I can see, McAfee is doing everything right, especially by comparison to the LP.

    And even if it only helps him sell more books or TV shows, great! …In those works perhaps the average voter will get a glimmer of an understanding of how bad they’re getting screwed by the panopticon that used to be America.

  7. Bob Dobbs

    Transcript of McAfee’s
    Official Campaign Announcement:

    It is now certain that the authors of America’s Declaration of Independence
    and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, texts of agonizing beauty in the face of today’s
    harsh realities, could not have anticipated a world in which spy cameras
    are hidden in cactuses, the government to surreptitiously parses our verbal
    communications, and the concept of privacy is fast approaching extinction.
    They could not have anticipated a world in which information is a prime
    commodity of exchange, at the expense of grace, compassion, solitude, and the
    remaining fragile components of the besieged human heart. What they did
    anticipate is that governments, no matter how powerful, will always hunger for more
    power and that power inevitably corrupts. Governments are composed of human beings
    and all of the frailties that humans possess are absorbed into those
    governments and become active within these governments: hatred, anger, jealousy,
    fear, greed, distrust, and the whole host of afflictions that humans must bear lurk
    just beneath the surface of civility displayed by government. When individuals
    become angry with one another an injury of some sort will likely occur; when
    governments become angry, entire civilizations are wiped out. When
    individuals become greedy, they are no longer invited to dinner; when
    governments become greedy, starvation afflicts the weaker nations. When people
    become fearful of the people, avoid them; when governments become fearful, the
    populace is included among those elements that the government fears and
    the populace has nowhere to go.
    These truths are self evident to anyone who cares to look with the right kind of
    eyes. More than two hundred years ago a document called the Declaration of
    Independence was penned by some of the greatest minds in the history of
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that people are endowed with certain
    unalienable rights, that among these rights are life liberty and the pursuit
    of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among people
    deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed that whenever
    any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right
    of the people to alter or abolish it” …a scant four-score and seven years
    after these words were written, a gaunt President Lincoln stepped onto one of
    the bloodiest battlefields in human history to admonish his current and
    all future generations, to bear the responsibility of we, the governed. He
    said, “we must now dedicate ourselves to the great task remaining before us that
    from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for
    which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve
    that these dead shall not have died in vain that this nation shall have a new
    birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people
    shall not perish from the Earth. I live in a country that has passed so many
    laws that, at an average reading speed, it would take me six hundred years to read,
    reading 24 hours a day. I’m protected by government that invades my privacy so that
    it can assure me that I am not the enemy it is protecting me from. I live in a
    country that is governed by people largely illiterate in cyber-security, as
    proven by the multiple government computer hacks, yet cyber warfare is now the means
    of war. My government is dysfunctional,
    for the 300 million other Americans, you are in the same boat with me, so stand
    with me, to protect our freedom! Visit McAfee 16 dot com


  8. Thomas L. Knapp

    On the one hand, I don’t care much about privacy per se, or consider it a campaign issue as such (it’s a second order effect of several actual rights, not a right in itself).

    On the other hand, McAfee’s talk makes more sense than anything I’ve heard from any of the “major party” candidates.

  9. paulie

    It does, but I want to hear a lot more about other issues and campaign strategy (ballot access is not just a personal/professional interest but also a very important gauge of how seriously various alt parties can be taken to be).

  10. Robert Capozzi

    tk: On the one hand, I don’t care much about privacy per se, or consider it a campaign issue as such (it’s a second order effect of several actual rights, not a right in itself).

    me: How so? Privacy to me = being “secure in their persons….”

  11. Thomas L. Knapp

    The claim of a “right to privacy” is a claim of “intellectual property” in this or that piece of knowledge or information. Over the last few years I’ve come to see “intellectual property” as an indefensible set of claims.

    Suppose you have a very special recipe that you don’t want to share with anyone else. You put it in a safe in your home.

    If I break into your home, break into the safe, and steal the piece of paper with the information on it, I’ve violated your rights in several ways. Knowing the recipe is not one of those violations of your rights.

    “Privacy” is a second order EFFECT of many rights, not a right in and of itself.

  12. paulie

    While living in a surveillance state has some implications for property, I see it more as an issue of liberty than one of property. The loss of all privacy is one of the important losses of liberty when being incarcerated. Having the government know what you read, listen to and watch, what you say and write and who you say and write it to, where you are at all times, etc, etc, isn’t just a matter of who profits from your ideas or creations – it’s a thing in itself. If someone gets a hold of your personal naked/sex photos and videos of yourself and/or your partner(s) and ex-partner(s), the violation is not only in whether they sell these images or videos for a profit.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp


    The state cannot know what you read, listen to and watch without violating a whole host of rights OTHER THAN knowing what you read, listen to and watch.

    When the state taps your phones or reads your email, it is trespassing on and making unauthorized use of property (phone lines, servers, etc.) that you either own or have acquired use rights to by agreement with the owner.

    When the government puts up surveillance cameras, it always does so on stolen property and/or with stolen money.

    If someone gets a hold of your personal/naked sex photos and videos by violating your rights (e.g. stealing them from your home or your briefcase), they’ve violated your rights whether they subsequently sell those images or videos for a profit or not.

    If someone gets a hold of your personal/naked sex photos and videos without violating your rights, there is no “violation” even if they do subsequently sell those images or videos for a profit or not.

    You have every right to take steps to keep your personal/naked sex photos private, such that they cannot be compromised without your rights being violated. You have no right to demand that people not see, remember or copy things as such.

  14. Robert Capozzi

    tk: …making unauthorized use of property (phone lines, servers, etc.) …

    me: Which depend on intellectual property. Phone lines and servers are meal and plastic otherwise.

  15. paulie

    TLK, suppose the federales replace paper and coin money with a gov-issued debit card or microchip, allowing them to track the amount, time, and place of every purchase, who bought what from whom when and where and for how much, who gifted what to who etc. Whose property rights would they be violating? Say you don’t have to take their chip or card…unless you want to have the only method of payment most places will accept.

  16. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Whose property rights would they be violating?”

    The people they robbed to create and issue the debit cards or microchips. The people they forced to use the debit cards or microchips via legal tender laws and other monetary controls.

    The negative effect on privacy would be a bad thing — and it would be a second-order effect of violations of rights, not a violation of rights and in and of itself.

  17. Robert Capozzi

    tk: Yes, phone lines and servers are metal and plastic. They are property. Ideas and information are not metal and plastic, nor are they property.

    me: Recognize and respect the assertion, but not sure it’s true. Property is a made-up concept, from a radical perspective. Whether we want to recognize metal, plastic, ideas, or information as “property” is up to the prevalent social convention in a land mass.

  18. William Saturn

    Does Tom Knapp own Kn@ppster since it does not physically exist? If someone hacked into the site and started posting neo-Nazi material in Knapp’s name would that constitute an offense?

  19. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Does Tom Knapp own Kn@ppster since it does not physically exist? If someone hacked into the site and started posting neo-Nazi material in Knapp’s name would that constitute an offense?”

    KN@PPSTER does physically exist, as bits on a web server owned by Google and delegated to me as an account holder in agreement with them. “Hacking” it would involve illicit use of (i.e. trespassing on) Google’s physical property (a portion of which is assigned to me).

    The CONTENT, i.e. INFORMATION, on KN@PPSTER does not belong to me. First of all, I don’t believe that it CAN belong to me, because information is not property. Secondly, even to the extent that US law creates a fiction of “intellectual property,” I decline to accept that fiction. I have placed all of my writings at KN@PPSTER in the public domain. I have not trademarked my name or the sobriquet “KN@PPSTER” and wouldn’t dream of trying to exercise a property claim on either.

  20. William Saturn

    Facts cannot be owned but why not the original organization of facts? I put in work to create something, why can’t I benefit from it? How is it any different than planting seeds, putting in work, and then selling the crops? If someone trespasses on my land and harvests my crops without my permission, my rights have been violated. Why should this concept only apply to physical things?

  21. Thomas L. Knapp

    “If someone trespasses on my land and harvests my crops without my permission, my rights have been violated. Why should this concept only apply to physical things?”

    If someone trespasses on your land and harvests your crops without your permission, they have the crops and you don’t.

    If someone copies and uses information you originally organized (or think you originally organized), you still have that information. So unless they’ve otherwise violated your rights (by, for example, trespassing on your land and stealing the paper you wrote that information down on), they haven’t violated your rights.

  22. William Saturn

    If I write a song, get it published and then someone sings it, claims it as their own and it becomes a major hit, am I not being deprived of the royalties I am entitled to?

  23. langa

    I have to agree with Knapp on the IP debate. I don’t really have time to get into a discussion about it, but it’s a fascinating topic, and I would encourage people to read some of the stuff by Stephan Kinsella and Jeff Tucker, as well as Knapp’s comrade at C4SS, Kevin Carson. Those three guys were really instrumental in changing my mind on IP.

  24. Thomas L. Knapp

    What do you mean “count for anything?”

    If you wrote it, you’re likely the first person to record it, the first person to perform it live, the first person identified with it. What else do you want by way of competitive advantage, a cookie?

    Somehow Dante, Virgil, Ovid, Homer and Shakespeare managed to become famous for their work (and in some cases wealthy) without having the state announce “hey, if you’re not that guy, you can’t copy the words he originally wrote or we will send cops to your house to kidnap you for him, and then take some of your ACTUAL property to compensate him for the non-loss of his fictional ‘property.'”

    Some writers and artists have begun to understand that copyright limits them more than it helps them. And that understanding has made some of them (for example, Cory Doctorow and Psy) famous and at least moderately wealthy.

  25. William Saturn

    Not all songwriters have the talent to sing. It’s not fair to deprive them of what they worked to achieve in crafting a song simply because they are not multi-talented. It discourages songwriting. And of the names you listed above, many of them took stories from elsewhere and adapted the stories as their own. For all we know, someone else entirely may have written the works attributed to those writers.

  26. Thomas L. Knapp

    You’re right. Not all songwriters have the talent to sing.

    A songwriter who doesn’t have the talent to sing should probably approach artists, show them a SAMPLE, and reach an AGREEMENT with them.

    It’s not just the names I listed above. There are a limited number of plots. Nearly any novel you pick up and read today, or play or movie you go to see, will be a new gloss on an older story line.

    There are 8 notes, plus sharps and flats, in music. There are a limited number of chords, and only certain combinations sound pretty to the ear. And as far as the lyrics are concerned, almost all of them fall into specific genres and storylines that have been mined for decades if not centuries. Nearly any song you can name, I can name one that “sounds like it.”

    Which is why you had Spirit suing Led Zeppelin because the opening arpeggios in “Stairway to Heaven” sounded not entirely unlike the arpeggios in “Taurus.” And the Chiffons suing George Harrison because the repeated three notes of “My Sweet Lord” were the same repeated three notes of “He’s So Fine.”

    “Intellectual property” is the claim that once you’ve done something, no one else should be allowed to do it or to do something that’s “too much like” it — even though someone else doing that thing or something like it in no way deprives you of the right to continue doing it or something like it.

    The closest thing I can think of to a valid intellectual property claim would be the claim of a CUSTOMER that a writer or performer defrauded the CUSTOMER of e.g. money paid for a record or for a book, by falsely claiming to be someone else or by falsley claiming to have created something he didn’t create. But that doesn’t go to the material, it goes to misrepresentation of self for profit.

    Copying is not stealing.

  27. William Saturn

    I agree with most of what you wrote above. Today’s copyright laws may be overly restrictive, particularly the concept of “subconscious copying.” However, I don’t believe copyright laws should be done away entirely on the part of the creator. Blatant and knowing taking of other’s work, without permission, does not seem fair or natural.

    For example, if I have no talent and I spend 5 years or more writing a song to make it big one time and somehow I write a good song, and then I give that song as a sample to a singer in hopes of securing an agreement, if that singer decides not to make any agreement with me but still records the song without giving me any credit and the song becomes a major hit and the singer makes millions of dollars off of it, then have I been wronged? Surely, you would have some sympathy for someone in that situation. And I think it’s natural for a person in such a situation to believe he has some ownership right over something he created. Isn’t that the same right one claims when one works the fields and produces crops that one intends to sell for profit?

  28. Andy Craig

    I’m very sympathetic to the anti-IP arguments, and I think when it comes to their complaints about the current laws they are mostly correct. The notion of “transformative use” has been way too heavily restricted- I think it should cover pretty much anything other than verbatim copying at length. There is also a lot in the economic argument that strict IP enforcement isn’t necessary, and is in fact counterproductive, to the goal of encouraging more creativity and success in film, music, etc. The fashion industry, for example, seems to do alright without any notion of copyright, as have some other fields of art.

    But I still have a hard time taking it to the point of full-blown abolition of IP per se, in light of the core set of facts from which copyright originally arose. If you write and publish a book, and I take every single word of that book and publish it myself and start selling it for half the price, or under my own name, etc., without either your consent or compensation – it’s hard to imagine a world where that wouldn’t be an actionable tort of some sort. Maybe you can’t get there from strict Rothbardian property-the-only-right NAP analysis. But you can quite easily get there, I think, as a matter of common law and the development of law in a Hayekian sense, where what counts as an “aggression” is ultimately what is adjudicated to be one on a case-by-case basis. And I think the more blatant forms of copyright violation would likely still fall into that category, in the same way that “harassment” can be regarded as actionable even when there was no single particular act that would be criminal on its own.

  29. Thomas L. Knapp

    Well, the thread has gone pretty far afield, given that it started with me classifying “privacy” claims as a subset of “intellectual property” claims. In my opinion, it’s possible to accept IP as such while still rejecting the notion of a “right to privacy.”

    That is, it’s possible to believe that property rights subsist in substantial unique informational works while not believing that possession/use of any given piece of information (or even any given datum) constitutes aggression in and of itself (i.e. absent the taint of other aggressions).

    Let’s take a given set of hypothetical facts:

    1) You are engaged in a romantic relationship with someone.

    2) You intentionally keep that relationship secret.

    3) I find out about the relationship, and I come by that knowledge without aggressing against you. That is, I don’t break into your house and catch you in the bedroom, or tap your phones and listen to you discussing the relationship, or anything like that.

    Do I have any obligation to not notice or know what’s going on, or to not mention it to anyone? I’d say it’s good manners to not running around talking about it, but that it’s not a violation of anyone’s rights if I do run around talking about it.

  30. paulie

    My new Garrison Center column welcomes McAfee to the presidential race and offers him some advice

    Sound advice. I hope he listens.

  31. Thane Eichenauer

    Lions of Liberty podcast with John McAfee coming up this Monday per Marc Clair via (at the 38 minute mark).

  32. Thomas L. Knapp

    I was hoping that McAfee would have a very libertarian platform, and maybe even consider throwing in for the LP’s nomination. Instead, his platform is sort of libertarian-lite in a few areas while FDR/Technocracy style in others. Very disappointing. But he’s still a better option than anything the Ds or Rs are likely to vomit up.

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