[insert office buildings where the lights flicker then go out]
General: “Get a tap on their Internet lines.”
Then it hits. A massive coronal mass ejection from the sun. Everything electronic shorts out immediately, unusable. Everything else metallic that attenuates electromagnetic waves quickly overheats, melts, and fuses. The entire societal infrastructure is lost.
Technician: “Oh God, what have you all done?”
Hardened by 2015's vicious disputes and coddled by a year of New Anonymity, citizens factionalize as a defense mechanism against the horrors that they know their evil opponents can't wait to unleash on them. Since people can no longer acquire the necessities of daily life anonymously, they are forced to reveal their identities, needs, and resources to trade for sustenance. This unmasking, sharing, this shameful "nakedness" before others is inimical to the paranoid way of life
politicians and citizens enjoyed for a year, and with no infrastructure left to go back to the old ways, society degrades. The larger factions break up as members realize others disagreed on some litmus test issue from the past, and familial tribalism takes hold.
NS: Neither of those sir. Even worse...
They manage to uncover the plot through the use of their complementary abilities, but they violate the privacy protection laws in the process. The FBI throws them in jail and the conspiracy continues.
The year is 2020. Following calls to ban all encryption in 2015 and 2016 and the subsequent realization that this would severely damage the global economy in 2017, a massive internet crash was caused by malevolent North Korean hackers exploiting the newly found 0-day vulnerability dubbed “SNEAKSEIZURE”, requiring the whole internet to be rebooted and North Korea to be nuked by China, a huge loss of face for the communist turned capitalist state.
The cryptothief: teens and cryptography. It can only end badly.
Under the new Nine Eyes (the Five Eyes plus Russia, South Africa, China, and Germany) Consortium’s supervision, special software has been made mandatory for everyone. Baked into the EFI BIOS of every new computer, it allows access to the revitalised internet. Older systems are unable to access this new internet, lacking support for the new ultra high speed tech supporting IPv.7 standard. This software supports special cryptographic techniques developed by MICIVES (Military Intelligence against Cyber Insurgency Vying for Extreme Secrecy - the replacement for the NSA) that allow denizens to securely access only those services that are deemed acceptable by the authorities and the major technology companies, while also providing access to all personal data desired by the authorities. Now and then, MICIVES sentences an evil cryptographer to forced labor in the data centers of Amazon, with TV reports showing the evils of cryptography (child abuse, drug abuse, murder, sexual deviancy, and facial features typical of a criminal - beard, wonky, looks tired and bleak) to the aprehensive public, likening the effects of cryptography to that of Kryptonite on Superman.