Privacy of Communications
A very basic cypherpunk issue is privacy in communications and data retention. John Gilmore said:
That's the kind of society I want to build. I want a guarantee -- with physics and mathematics, not with laws -- that we can give ourselves real privacy of personal communications.
Such guarantees require strong cryptography, so cypherpunks are fundamentally opposed to government policies attempting to control the usage or export of cryptography, which remained an issue throughout the late 90s. See politics of cryptography for discussion.
Cypherpunks deplore regulations on cryptography, for encryption is fundamentally a private act.
This was a central issue for many cypherpunks. Most were passionately opposed to various government attempts to limit cryptography — export laws, promotion of limited key length ciphers, and especially escrowed encryption.