PGP's privacy invaded

In a move to circumvent U.S. export controls, self-styled Cypherpunks post a copy of Pretty Good Privacy's latest encryption software on an FTP site.

2 min read
In a move to circumvent U.S. export controls on strong encryption, self-styled Cypherpunks have posted a copy of
Pretty Good Privacy's latest version of its encryption software on an FTP site.

PGP's general counsel, Bob Kohn, said the company isn't happy about the infringement of its intellectual property in PGP version 5.5, but it won't affect PGP's business.

"We are going to put out a freeware version anyway in several weeks, and I don't think anyone would use a [pirated] version if a freeware version is available," Kohn said.

In a posting to the "Cypherpunks" mailing list, a popular list on cryptography, a person identified as Lucky Green announced the availability of PGP 5.5 for Windows on the FTP site. Cypherpunks generally advocate unfettered use of cryptography on the Net.

"It seems that unknown Cypherpunks have yet again shown their disrespect of U.S. export laws by exporting the latest version of PGP," wrote Lucky Green, who then touted version 5.5's superior features for integrating LDAP keyserver, multiple signature categories, and automatic decryption.

PGP's Kohn said the company did not authorize the posting of its software and confirmed that U.S. approval is required to export its 128-bit encryption outside the United States or Canada.

"We're not sure where that site is [located] in the world, but we don't think it's any different from a typical violation of intellectual property that happens frequently on the Internet," Kohn said. The company will report the infringement to industry trade groups that take action against those who violate intellectual property laws on the Net.

PGP regularly posts free versions of its encryption software, generally on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology site, after releasing a commercial version. The freeware license is for noncommercial use, and the license agreement encourages people to post the software on as many FTP sites as possible to enable broad usage.

Separately, PGP today introduced its software developer's kit, PGPsdk, for building strong encryption into software without having expertise in cryptography. E-commerce software vendor Mercantec and email software developer e Corp have licensed the kit, which runs on Windows 95, Windows NT, Macintosh, Solaris Sparc 2.5, and Linux.