PGP is 'Pretty Good Privacy'. It is a publically
available encryption scheme that allows Internet users to send encrypted
messages to each other via the Internet. 'Fred's PGP Page' contains
links to great information about encryption. Addtionally, it links to information
about news events and legislation that will affect privacy of messages on
the Internet. Recent events concerning encryption have been very troubling
to say the least. Please support Congressman Conrad Burns in his efforts
to protect email privacy. If the present administration has their way,
email privacy in the United States will be a thing of the past.
I salute Phil Zimmerman in his fight for encryption rights
on the Internet. For those who don't know, Phil is the author of the
PGP software. The Federal government attempted to prosecute him because
some other Internet user made the PGP software available on USENET
(which allowed it to be downloaded from overseas). It was claimed that
encryption was 'munitions' and was therefore subject to export laws.
Instead of going after the person who actually posted it, they went
after Phil. It was three years of pain, but the government finally
dropped its case. It is reasonable to conclude that (1) the government
thought PGP was a pretty good way of keeping them from reading our email,
and (2) they didn't have a leg to stand on in their frivolous effort.
"When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have
guns." The same is true for encryption. Which is why a recent
press announcement of a bill to make PGP (and other types of encryption)
users provide their decryption keys to the government (this is called 'key
escrow') is quite disturbing. What is the point of using encryption
if the government has the means to read the messages? Do you really
think the criminal is going to provide the means to read encrypted
mail? Only the poor innocent end user is going to be penalized.
You can help by writing your Congressman and
demand that laws protecting encryption be passed. Additionally,
you can send a note to George W.
Bush and let him know what you think of this plan (hopefully how terribly
bad it is and that it is probably unconstitutional). Use your PGP key
on your electronic signature on the message to show them how serious you
Another way to help is to get yourself set up with PGP
and start using it. When using PGP is the norm rather than the exception,
a clearer message will be sent. There are PGP Platforms for almost
every operating systems and they are cross compatible (meaning that a message
encoded with PGP for Windows can be decrypted by PGP for MacIntosh. GPG is
the Linux version of PGP and can be downloaded from
If you know of any good PGP sites, please let
me know at:
firstname.lastname@example.org . I
will be glad to add them.