Publication | ThinkSet
Why Use Encryption? Because Business Needs a Free Flow of Ideas.
May 16, 2019
How what was once considered “spy stuff” went on to facilitate online commerce, foster free expression, and protect individual privacy around the world
On the morning of January 11, 1996, a computer programmer named Philip Zimmermann received welcome news that the US Attorney’s Office had dropped its case against him, and he no longer faced the risk of a million-dollar fine and five years in prison. Zimmermann’s alleged offense? He created the enormously popular PGP software, the first commercially available email encryption platform.
In 2019, this might not sound like much of a crime. But in the mid-1990s—in the internet’s relative infancy—government officials were grappling with how to deal with information that could cross the globe in a matter of minutes. They also discounted the potential benefits cryptographic tools could have for ordinary people and businesses.