This FAQ lists as much detail of the history as I have been able to gather together. My part in the creation of this document is to collate information, all of the information is obtained from others, from email comments, from my reading of other peoples past cypherpunks list posts, usenet posts, and from my reading of the resources available on the WWW, and the pgp source code and documentation (going back to version 1.0).
I think there are still many inaccuracies, so if you have any corrections, extra information, or know anyone who you think may know more, feel free to forward them a copy for comment.
Adam Back <email@example.com>
(pgp on key servers, or here)
An html version of this document can be obtained from:
PRZ Phil R Zimmermann, internet folk hero, author of PGP
RSA The RSA public key crypto algorithm as used in PGP. RSA stands for Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman (its designers). RSADSI rsa.com, RSA Data Security Inc, patent holders of some public key stuff, which they claim means that no one can use RSA without getting a license from them. They have a www page at: http://www.rsa.com/
PKP Public Key Partners composed of RSADSI plus Cylink (plus others?) (now disbanded)
ITAR International Traffic in Arms Regulations controls export of controlled munitions from the US, things like military aircraft components, biological and chemical weapons, and also (very strangely) cryptographic software. See:
for the full text of ITAR (file is GNU zip format).
PK Public Key (cryptography) as opposed to symmetric key cryptography PK is also known as "asymmetric key" cryptography.
NSA US National Security Agency, US govt's largest spook agency. whimsically known as No Such Agency because until recently the US govt tried to deny they even existed. (Also the letters NSA are jokingly said to mean Never Say Anything because their public relations technique is usually "no comment" to avoid giving anything away) CIA US Central Intelligence Agency, another US spook agency
DEA US Drug Enforcement Agency, agency charged with carrying out the "War on drugs".
NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology
ODTC Office of Defense Trade Controls, USG group charged with enforcing ITAR. They consult with the NSA, the NSA has the last word on what gets export approval.
USG United States Government
ETHZ Eidgenissische Technische Hochschule Zurich
ZLDF Phil Zimmermann Legal Defense Fund (now closed since his investigation was dropped)
IDEA International Data Encryption Algorithm invented by Xuejia Lai and James Massey at ETH in Zurich. Patent owned by Ascom-Tech.
Bass-O-Matic Symmetric key crypto algorithm designed PRZ as used in PGP 1.0. Bass-O-Matic was weak, and after having this demonstrated to him, PRZ replaced it with IDEA in later versions of PGP.
(some years pass...)
The 17 Apr 1991 New York Times reports on an unsettling US Senate proposal that is part of a counterterrorism bill. If this nonbinding resolution became real law, it would force manufacturers of secure communications equipment to insert special "trap doors" in their products, so that the Government can read anyone's encrypted messages. It reads: "It is the sense of Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment shall insure that communications systems permit the Government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law."
(This was 1991 Senate Bill 266 and it eventually failed to pass into law.)
The RSA public key cryptosystem was developed at MIT with Federal funding from grants from the National Science Foundation and the Navy. It is patented by MIT (U.S. patent #4,405,829, issued 20 Sep 1983). A company called Public Key Partners (PKP) holds the exclusive commercial license to sell and sub-license the RSA public key cryptosystem. For licensing details on the RSA algorithm, you can contact Robert Fougner at PKP, at 408/735-6779. The author of this software implementation of the RSA algorithm is providing this implementation for educational use only. Licensing this algorithm from PKP is the responsibility of you, the user, not Philip Zimmermann, the author of this software implementation. The author assumes no liability for any breach of patent law resulting from the unlicensed use by the user of the underlying RSA algorithm used in this software.
The Government has made it illegal in many cases to export good
cryptographic technology, and that may include PGP. This is
determined by volatile State Department policies, not fixed laws.
Many foreign governments impose serious penalties on anyone inside
their country using encrypted communications. In some countries they
might even shoot you for that. I will not export this software in
cases when it is illegal to do so under US State Department policies,
and I assume no responsibility for other people exporting it without
The Government has made it illegal in many cases to export good cryptographic technology, and that may include PGP. This is determined by volatile State Department policies, not fixed laws. Many foreign governments impose serious penalties on anyone inside their country using encrypted communications. In some countries they might even shoot you for that. I will not export this software in cases when it is illegal to do so under US State Department policies, and I assume no responsibility for other people exporting it without my permission.
[insert mit press URL for book]
MIT were following on from Phil Karn's fun had at the expense of the NSA and ODTC with his case of the ODTCs ruling that Bruce Schneier's book Applied Cryptography was exportable while the disk set (with the very same source code) was ruled as not exportable. Phil Karn is appealing at this decision. See, for documents Phil Karn has scanned on the case:
MIT has asked for permission to export the PGP internals book, so far the NSA sounds like they want to ban the export of the book, PRZs declaration (PRZ made a declaration in connection with Phil Karn's case against the NSA, the ODTC, and miscellaneous government officials) this was taken from bottom of:
10. I believe that the commodity jurisdiction request referred on page
28 of the Justice filing is the one which was filed by MIT Press for
my book, PGP: Source Code and Internals. I am further informally
advised that the National Security Agency has considered the Request
and recommended that the book be controlled for export under the ITAR
and that the Department of Commerce has recommended that it not be
subject to ITAR controls.
10. I believe that the commodity jurisdiction request referred on page 28 of the Justice filing is the one which was filed by MIT Press for my book, PGP: Source Code and Internals. I am further informally advised that the National Security Agency has considered the Request and recommended that the book be controlled for export under the ITAR and that the Department of Commerce has recommended that it not be subject to ITAR controls.
If you are in the US and pgp262 does not compile for your platform, another option may be to obtain pgp262i and compile it with -DMIT, which makes it use RSAREF (which keeps RSADSI happy), pgp262i compiles for a wider range of platforms.
See Stale Schumacher's pgp pages for a table of which versions to use
in USA/Canada/Rest of world depending on whether you are using in a
commercial or a non-commercial setting:
Ascom-Tech AG has granted permission for the freeware version PGP to use the IDEA cipher in non-commercial uses, everywhere. In the US and Canada, all commercial or Government users must obtain a licensed version from ViaCrypt, who has a license from Ascom-Tech for the IDEA cipher.
Ascom Systec contact info:
Ascom Systec AG
Phone: +41 62 889 59 54
Fax: +41 62 889 59 54
has probably been exported a few hundred thousand times by now. It's an implementation of RSA encrypt and decrypt in perl and dc - a real crypto system, which has every right to claim ITAR status if anything does, and yet benefits from being more convienient to use as a .sig than a uuencoded PGP binary. See:
However, he was kidnapped for a number of reasons:
(The whole situation was very silly anyway because just a few months before a renegade faction of the Panama Army kidnapped Noriega and turned him over to the the US Army. They released him. The speculation is that the CIA (who were later themselves implicated in drug smuggling) didn't want him tried in case they were implicated. The presumption is that a few papers were shredded before the USG kidnapping.)
Some of these criteria are likely to be missing if there was an attempt to extradite a non-US citizen outside the US for breaking ITAR. One big problem is that crypto is not controlled as much in most of the free world. Also the fact that the USG haven't bothered other people within the US who have similarly exported crypto software (examples cited in 6.3) would make the whole situation look rather silly.
for a detailed survey of the crypto laws of many countries.
Adam Back <firstname.lastname@example.org>