Philip Zimmermann’s PGP Export
This research is being submitted on May 19, 2013 for Mr. Haynes’ ISM 2321 course at Rasmussen College by Emily Campbell.
Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP as it is called, was a great advance for normal people. Phil Zimmermann’s cryptography program provided everyone with the ability to keep their electronic transmissions private. Typically this type of privacy had been the domain of governments and corporations. In 1991, Zimmermann’s creation made it onto the World Wide Web where it spread all over the world. The US government had a problem with PGP spreading outside the country. “Using such software is not restricted or illegal within the United States, but export control laws treat the software as a weapon and place strict prohibition on its export. The Government opposes the scrambling because it wants to be able to check on the activities of criminals overseas and hostile foreign governments.” (Markoff, 1996). The PGP software was not easy to crack and that made the US government nervous. Phil Zimmermann denied making PGP available worldwide. However once more than just he had a copy of it, it was inevitable that it would end up outside the country. He was investigated by US Customs under the accusation that he exported munitions. This was a big case because it could have set a precedent that made what you post on the Internet an export. This could have led to government control of Internet related companies, software design, or other computer or privacy related products. That type of control would not be acceptable in this country. Phil Zimmermann did what he had a right to do, he created a program that allowed others to encrypt and keep safe their communications online. Distributing cryptographic software free to the masses means that some will use it for less than moral acts. However, this does not mean that the creator of the software is responsible for those immoral acts....
References: Markoff, John (1996). Data-secrecy export case dropped by U.S. New York Times. Retrieved on May 19, 2013 from: http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.rasmussen.edu/nytimes/docview/430473274/fulltext/13E24AF949764AF2651/1?accountid=40836
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