Le Monde: "Militant Cypherpunks liberate crypto software"

Anonymous anon at anon.efga.org
Fri Aug 29 09:39:08 PDT 1997

  The "cypherpunks" liberate PGP

Yves Eudes

 ENCRYPTION. At the occasion of Hacking in Progress 97, the large
 congress of information pirates which has been taking place in Almere
 (Netherlands), a group of militant hackers has imported the latest
 version of the PGP encryption software to europe, evading the
 restrictive measures of the American goverment.

PHILIP Zimmermann, author of the celebrated encryption software Pretty
Good Privacy (PGP) has once more defied the American authorities who
have been preventing him from exporting his program for years for
reasons of national security (see "Monde Télévision-Radio-Multimédia",
17-18 March 1996). Since 11 August, the new version (5.0) of PGP is
freely available in Europe, thanks to the ruse of a team of
Euro-American "cypherpunks" (1), militants devoted to the defense of
the secrecy of the mails on the Internet.

A few weeks ago, the US goverment authorised a limited distribution of
PGP to the foreign brances of American companies (Le Monde of 4-7-97):
a theoretical desision, since the different versions of PGP are
already circulating in the whole world, more or less legally.

Be that as it may, the militant cypherpunks do not care about these
half measures for commercial purposes, coming after years of legal
harrassment. To once more show the futility of the restrictions, they
have decided to distribute PGP in Europe, this time legally, thanks to
a legal trick.

In fact, even if the exportation in electronic form (Internet or
CD-ROM) remains subject to control, a federal judge has recently
decided that software source code, when printed in a book, may be
freely circulated, including outside the United States.

Thus, the militants' trick consisted of printing the source code of
PGP 5.0 in the United States, which took up twelve gross volumes, and
then proceeding to Europe, carrying the books in their
suitcases. There, eighty volunteers in several teams mainly based in
Norway and the Netherlands, have skimmed through all of it, then
scanned it page by page before finally re-creating an electronic
version of the source code and then reconstructing the software.

This exhausting work was achieved on Monday 11 August at four in the
morning by a small group of militants piled up in a camping tent in
the wood of Alemre, near Amsterdam, where HIP 97 (Hacking in
Progress), the largest congress of information pirates ever organized
in Europe, had been taking place for three days in open air. In spite
of the late hour, the news of the installation of PGP on a European
server (suitated in Norway) was saluted by an ovation that made the
wood tremble, a deluge of music, bonfires, and carrying on the
libations that had begun late in the evening. Then the news was
distributed on the Internet by some one thousand computers at HIP 97
placed in the grass.

The new PGP is equipped with a graphical interface very easy to use
even by bedinners. Versions for Windows 95 and MacIntosh, integrable
to the most current electronic mail software, will soon be brought to
circulation. Philip Zimmermann also takes the credit for creating a
general dictionary, open to all, of the "global community of PGP

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