Happy 30th Birthday - PGP

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PGP? Pretty Good Privacy - Philip Zimmermann's cryptography program.
From Philip's Blog:

PGP Marks 30th Anniversary - 6 June 2021
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of PGP 1.0.

It was on this day in 1991 that Pretty Good Privacy was uploaded to the Internet. I had sent it to a couple of my friends for distribution the day before. This set in motion a decade of struggle to end the US export controls on strong cryptographic software. After PGP version 1.0 was released, a number of volunteer engineers came forward and we made many improvements. In September 1992 we released PGP 2.0 in ten foreign languages, running on several different platforms, upgraded with new functionality, including the distinctive trust model that enabled PGP to become the most widely used method of email encryption.

I became the target of a criminal investigation for violating the Arms Export Control Act by allowing PGP to spread around the world. This further propelled PGP's popularity. The government dropped the investigation in early 1996, but the policy debate raged on, until the US export restrictions finally collapsed in 2000. PGP ignited the decade of the Crypto Wars, resulting in all the western democracies dropping their restrictions on the use of strong cryptography. It was a storied and thrilling decade, and a triumph of activism for the right to have a private conversation.

I wanted PGP to be used for human rights applications. I wanted it to spread all over the world, especially to places where people needed protection from their own governments. But I couldn't say that out loud during the criminal investigation, because it would help the prosecutor prove intent.

The most dramatic PGP stories came from outside the US. PGP helped enable the safe evacuation of 8000 civilians from mortal danger during the Kosovo conflict. While attending the 2014 Cybersecurity Hall of Fame ceremony, a guy from the HUMINT community approached me to thank me because he said he had some colleagues who were alive today because of PGP. Human rights groups documenting war crimes in Guatemala, protecting witnesses from reprisals from the military. Human rights workers in the Balkans. Political resistance in Burma in the 1990s. There were so many stories like that over the years.

Groundbreaking software - putting communications security in the hands of everyone.  The deep state was very active back then too.  It was pissed but the cat was out of the bag.  Phil was put through Hell for this but there was nothing that they could do.

Read the whole thing as this is coming into play again with the current deep state machinations. We trust our phones and our social media but we really should not.  You never know who might be listening - especially when 95% of your electronics is manufactured by one nation.  The iPhone may be designed in the USA but who knows what might have been added to the design when it went into production - back door?

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on June 7, 2021 9:36 PM.

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