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Pretty Good Privacy

PGP is "encryption for the masses." It gives average law abiding citizens a few of the privacy rights which governments and corporations insist that they need for themselves. This is the famous encryption program that will allow you to send messages over the Net in relative privacy. While no encryption program is absolutely safe, this one is secure enough that it is illegal to export it out of the United States of America. The writer of PGP was investigated by the United States Government for five years, costing him a fortune in legal expenses, before it was finally determined that he was not responsible for the escape of PGP beyond our shores. This harassment was only one example of how the Conspiracy wants to know everything about you. But thanks to programs like PGP, you can keep your private files truly private. The PGP pages also include links for PGPfone, the program that lets you use PGP to engage in encrypted, secure voice-to-voice communications over the Internet.

PGP finally went mainstream in late 1996, when the company Pretty Good Privacy, Inc. was formed to develop and sell PGP-based applications for businesses and serious Net users. PGP Inc. was acquired by Network Associates (the makers of McAfee Antivirus), and Network Associates angered a lot of the Cypherpunks and worldwide contributors to PGP's development when they copyrighted further developments and updates to PGP, rather than releasing the source code to the open source community. Eventually, Network Associates dropped PGP, and PGP Inc. broke away to become an independent company once again.

PGP has been at the center of a massive back-and-forth battle involving the rights to the encryption procedure, free use versus commercial use, international (outside the USA) vs. local (USA) use, and absolute, universal access to the open source code versus private copyrights. Because of all this, PGP has evolved, mutated, schismed, and been emulated many times in its 15-year history. I can't even pretend to offer a comprehensive history of PGP, but I can explain the current state of PGP:

My own PGP public key can be found at: http://www.modemac.com/key.html