This article is from the PGP FAQ, by Jeff Licquia email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
All articles reproduced by permission.
Evidently, providing "free crypto for the masses" has its down side.
The government is investigating Phil Zimmermann, the original author
of PGP, for alleged violations of the ITAR export regulations
prohibiting the unlicensed export of cryptographic equipment. They do
not seem to believe that Phil himself actually exported PGP; rather,
they claim that making the program available in a way that it could be
exported is itself export (such as giving it away without
As of this writing, the investigation is just that. In January,
Phil's lawyers met with the government lawyers to discuss the case.
The outcome of the meeting is unclear at this point, though the
meeting was described as "cordial" by Phillip Dubois, Phil
Even though it's "just an investigation", it's been an expensive one.
Phil immediately had to go out and get legal representation to try to
combat this "investigation" and prepare for its possible result. He's
got a really good legal team, and they have done a lot of their work
pro bono in support of the cause. Unfortunately, there are still
costs associated with legal fights like this one. Phil's got quite a
bill so far.
To help offset his costs, Phil and his legal team have set up a legal
defense fund for contributions. It's currently way in the red, but
it's better than paying the whole bill outright. If charges actually
get filed, the total bill could soar up into the millions; not a fun
thing to have happen to you after providing such a nice (if
controversial) public service. And spending all these millions
doesn't guarantee that he won't be convicted and spend some time in
jail; that's something not even a legal defense fund can pay for.
Several companies who benefit from the use of PGP have indicated that
they will donate a portion of their profits from certain activities to
the legal defense fund. Here is a partial list:
First Virtual Holdings Incorporated
Four11 Directory Services
Christopher Geib (the author of the shareware WinPGP)
Additions to this list would be appreciated.
More information can be had by sending E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by
visiting the information page set up for the fund:
Also, the legal team has also asked that anyone who has been
approached by a federal investigator and questioned about Phil
Zimmermann please contact Phillip Dubois [email@example.com,
303/444-3885, 2305 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80304-4132].