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votelink - some discussions on Phil Z & ITAR
A short time ago on cpunks someone posted this pointer:
as there was a vote and associated discussion forum being offered on
the subject of Phil Z, the (somewhat leading - incorrectly leading)
"Should Phil Zimmermann be prosecuted for allowing release of his PGP
encryption program on the Internet?"
(The comment on leading question being prompted of course by the fact
that Phil did not himself export PGP, nor put it on the internet, nor
even put it on US BBSes. The way I understand the story was that a
friend of Phil's posted the code to US BBSes, and that an unknown 3rd
party posted it from there to the Internet. He is being investigated
for "making PGP available in a form in which it could be exported",
something different to what is implied by the question. In this light
I find it difficult to understand how he could be held to have
"allowed it's release on the Internet", something which even the State
Department investigation is not I think accusing him of. Several
people pointed this out in the discussion forum. A more accurate
phrasing would perhaps have been:
"Should Phil Zimmermann be persecuted for writing PGP?"
but then that is no doubt biased in the opposite direction.)
An interesting vote in any case, and the balance so far is:
YES: 000,172 | ABSTAIN: 000,096 | NO: 001,508
The abstainers I think could be partly explained by the worry that the
question was leading or incorrect, as this opinion was voiced in the
Also an interesting thread was generated in the (WWW hosted)
discussion forum about the legal problems implied by me posting these
two snippetts of code (which I posted to the forum earlier):
#!/bin/perl -s-- -export-a-crypto-system-sig -RSA-3-lines-PERL
$m=unpack(H.$w,$m."\0"x$w),$_=`echo "16do$w 2+4Oi0$d*-^1[d2%Sa
------------------ PGP.ZIP Part [024/713] -------------------
M!4HD";*K"$$=/!<29+_A`K9C/[email protected]"4<,5G(N0M`47K#'`T6"[&>[email protected]
(hmm it seems that their WWW conversion chopped out some parts of it
presumably due to it containing < and > symbols, so perhaps their
fears were even further unfounded).
They were alarmed by the implication that their WWW server now
contained PGP code which they did not feel qualified to judge the
implications, or correctness of. This prompted the posting to the
forum of a rather worried sounding disclaimer by a votelink
representative, to the effect that they were abiding by the Prodigy
ruling, and so felt unable to remove the offending piece of ITAR
breakage, and yet felt rather unconfortable with it's presence.
I hastened to explain (after a certain cpunk kindly drew by attention
to the discussion which I had neglected to check out after posting the
1st message) that the same dilema applies to numerous other forums,
such as USENET news distribution sites, sci.crypt archives, cpunks
archives, etc, etc.
Generated some interesting discussion anyway.