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Why I Do It

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I have never felt very inclined to explain to anyone why I use PGP, as in my experience, I have found that most people who complain about it have already made up their minds as to why I am wrong to use it. The bigger picture beyond that is I am simply not compelled to explain myself to other people. I use it because I want to, there is no other relevant reason.

Nobody can predict the future. During the Nixon era, privacy was thrown out the window in order to advance political agendas without regard for the law or consequences. New laws were passed to prevent these invasions, and for a while things got better. But then more time passed, and another jerk off has come to power that again has traded away privacy for political ends. It was not inconceivable that people could conspire to allow this to happen then, and it's certainly evident how possible it really was right now.

I started using PGP (and have since moved to GPG+Enigmail) during one of the privacy-friendly eras, with an eye towards the future. Laws can change, and people can change. It was not unforeseeable that something might happen in the world that would make people want to surrender one of the most cherished rights and the very foundation of the free world: their privacy. It doesn't matter if it was likely, only that it was possible, and it always pays to be ready for change.

For people like me, who value privacy up there with the freedom to speak as one wishes without prior restraint, it's just not something you place in other peoples hands. During dark days like these, when the people ruling over you consider privacy to be a privilege and not a right, you can either wait and hope things get better, or assert yourself over the situation and place your rights back in your own two hands.

PGP allows you to do this, and so it has been done. Even if it were completely legal (it is not) to spy on your own people, I still wouldn't allow it. The decision over what is private and what isn't is up to me and no one else.

Not everyone in the world has good intentions, and even fewer can be trusted to keep their word. PGP allows me to remove the decision from their hands, as you would a child who has shown they cannot be trusted with the responsibilities given to them. I sleep peacefully at night not because I know that my communications are secured beyond anyones means, but because I know that should I ever wish them to, they will be.

Governments were created by the people to help the people, to serve and protect them, not to rule them. Not here, not now, and not ever. PGP is just one piece of the puzzle though, and there are other rights that are equally vital to the prospering of a free nation that cannot be protected with software. I wish there was, life would be a lot more enjoyable.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.