PGP and Philip Zimmermann


Source: Wikipedia

Therefore, using PGP is good for preserving democracy.
-Philip Zimmermann

PGP is a Program

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a program written by Philip Zimmermann in 1991 when the cryptographic algorithms or software are highly regulated and subject to export control. The symmetric-key cipher used in the PGP v1.0 is called “BassOmatic.”

The International Data Encryption Algorithm (IDEA) was a symmetric-key block cipher. It was then incorporated in the early version of PGP v2.0 but found to be insecure. IDEA is optional in the OpenPGP standard.

PGP for Preserving Democracy

  • The 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) mandated that phone companies install remote wiretapping ports into their central office digital switches, creating a new technology infrastructure for “point-and-click” wiretapping, so that federal agents no longer have to go out and attach alligator clips to phone lines.
  • In April 1993, the Clinton administration unveiled a bold new encryption policy initiative, which had been under development at the National Security Agency (NSA) since the start of the Bush administration. The centerpiece of this initiative was a government-built encryption device, called the Clipper chip, containing a new classified NSA encryption algorithm. The government tried to encourage private industry to design it into all their secure communication products, such as secure phones, secure faxes, and so on.
  • Throughout the 1990s, I figured that if we want to resist this unsettling trend in the government to outlaw cryptography, one measure we can apply is to use cryptography as much as we can now while it’s still legal. When use of strong cryptography becomes popular, it’s harder for the government to criminalize it. Therefore, using PGP is good for preserving democracy. If privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy.

Source: Why I Wrote PGP

OpenPGP Message Format (RFC 4880)

In July 1997, PGP Inc. proposed to the IETF that there be a standard called OpenPGP. They gave the IETF permission to use the name OpenPGP to describe this new standard as well as any program that supported the standard. The IETF accepted the proposal and started the OpenPGP Working Group.

OpenPGP provides data integrity services for messages and data files
by using these core technologies:

  • Digital signatures
  • Encryption
  • Compression
  • Radix-64 conversion


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