Since the very beginning of the web there has been an ongoing feud between cryptographers and governments. Yet it is only since three years that the issue of privacy and snooping has been highlighted in the public debate, triggered by the revelations in the Snowden files. Due to global security developments and counter-terrorism efforts, the debate has rapidly turned grim. In their eagerness to harvest data and out of fear of losing control, governments blame encryption and the Deep Web for a thriving underworld of criminal activities.

In the public debate, the focus has mostly been on the incredibly complex issue of protecting individual privacy. The Crypto Design Challenge aims to tap into a different vein, evoking an alternative imagination of the Deep Web, while also making it accessible as a collective privacy tool for the masses. 



The Crypto Design Challenge is an open call to emerging designers and artists all over the world to help reshape the dominant picture of the deep web. The aim is to “go diving” into the Deep Web, to decrypt its content, and explore how these hidden infrastructures could be empowering, hospitable, and inspiring. Surf forward to our open call.


Goals and missions

The Crypto Design Challenge

  • wants to promote the use of through-provoking visuals in the technological environments of computer languages and encryption;
  • aims to implement design solutions to offer accessible privacy options to the majority of people who have little to no knowledge of computers and security technology;
  • seeks to link together creative education programmes with technological education programmes, to jointly develop user-friendly privacy tools;
  • wishes to challenge designers to make complex situations intelligible through design solutions;
  • aims to increase citizens’ awareness of the importance of privacy in society;
  • seeks to expand the network to other European countries, building a European alliance for the protection of privacy by means of design;
  • aims to develop ideas and designs, prototypes and conduct testing, so that the tools can be made operational.


For the first international Crypto Design Challenge MOTI Museum of the Image, Citizen Datalab and Institute of Network Cultures combine their strengths in design and research to create an event that inspires artists to stay true to the critical design of (digital) encryption.


MOTI, Museum of the Image is the museum for image culture. We live in a world where we are saturated with images. This is why MOTI continually poses questions: what do you do with images, and what do images do with you?

Through the means of exhibitions, symposia, publications and the permanent collection MOTI is focusing on relevant developments within image culture at regional, national and international scale. This makes the museum a creative hub for current-day artists and image makers. MOTI aims to introduce people from all ages to the phenomenon of image culture. As a socially engaged museum, MOTI initiated the Crypto Design Challenge in 2015 to provide an answer to the growing societal concern of online privacy. 


The Citizen Data Lab at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences focuses on data analysis for citizen empowerment. In the lab, researchers map and activate the urban surroundings of the Amstel Campus for the development and validation of novel research methods and participatory design.

The Data Literacy project helps to open up the black boxes of technology by visualizing data. The Tracker Guide to the Cloud (one of the nominees from the Crypto Design Challenge 2015) is an example of one of their projects.

The Tracker Guide to the Cloud will help you to better understand what happens when you open a website in your browser. Which content is being “pulled in” from the cloud, and which user data is being collected by the present trackers. It will also help you relate to cloud critique, and formulate your own viewpoints and research projects.


The Institute of Network Cultures (INC) analyzes and shapes the terrain of network cultures through events, publications, and online dialogue. Our projects evolve around digital publishing, internet revenue models, alternatives in social media, search engines, Wikipedia, precarity in the creative industries and much more. The INC was founded in 2004 by Geert Lovink, following his appointment within the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. A key focus is the establishment of sustainable research networks. Interdisciplinary by design, the INC brings together researchers, artists, activists, programmers, designers, and students and teachers.