Privacy - What about it? ... A comprehensive and easy to understand overview of public key cryptography and the main tool to apply it: Pretty Good Privacy.

Essay by sunbeam60College, Undergraduate March 2003

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Privacy - what about it?

Right now humankind is watching the wonder of the internet unfolding before our eyes. Never before has a medium grown and attained such a respectfull state so quickly! In five years the internet has broken its chrysalis and gained adulthood. What started out as defence network, turned into a science exchange and finally penetrated critical mass. Today the internet houses some 200 million citizens. Five years ago it sheltered 10 million. That is growth unseen of!

In other words: We are breaking new ground here! Although we tend to think of the net as mature, we accept the fact that this is only the beginning. This public square that transended above mere wires long ago, continues its unheard of growthrate. Right now its a Klondike, a chaos that fluxes and tests its borders. This is the time - not later, but now - to define basic 'human rights' in electronic form.

Although these 'human rights' includes other subjects they also pack the right for privacy. And this is just as important as other basic rights such as freedom of speach and the right of free assembly.

You might think that the right for privacy on the net already exist, but let me disappoint you on that: It does not! And in a network that is made up of 160+ states and cultures to numourous to count it is up to outselves to ensure privacy. Because no one can guarantee it for you! Not your covernment, no free speach movement; only yourself!

You might also think that you have no actual need for privacy, because you are not trying to hide something. Hey! Neither am I. Still I advocate for it! And I'll let you in on why...

Sending an e-mail (or actually any electronic information,