13 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 581 (1996-1997)
Cryptic Controversy: U.S. Government Restrictions on Cryptography Exports and the Plight of Philip Zimmerman

handle is hein.journals/gslr13 and id is 599 raw text is: CRYPTIC CONTROVERSY: U.S. GOVERNMENT
RESTRICTIONS ON CRYPTOGRAPHY EXPORTS
AND THE PLIGHT OF PHILIP ZIMMERMANN
INTRODUCTION
On November 9, 1994, Philip Zimmermann, a computer
software engineer who lives in Boulder, Colorado, passed through
customs at Dulles International Airport.' Zimmermann was
returning from Europe, where he had been invited to speak on
issues of public policy.2 At the airport, a Customs Special Agent
diverted Zimmermann from the normal customs process and
subjected him to an individualized luggage search and a lengthy
interrogation regarding Zimmerman's possible illegal exportation
of dangerous munitions.3 What was the dangerous weapon
which interested the U.S. Government so much that it would
individually   interrogate   a  U.S. citizen?    It  was   computer
software.4
Specifically, the software in question is called Pretty Good
Privacy, or PGP.5 PGP, created by Zimmermann, is computer
software that transforms plain English data from nearly any
personal computer into an encoded' version that can only be
read by its intended recipient.' PGP encodes data so well, in
fact, that it is used by everyone from Russian freedom fighters to
American     criminals    to  maintain     the   secrecy   of their
1. Letter from Kenneth C. Bass, III, Attorney for Philip Zimmermann, to Homer
Williams, Acting Assistant Commissioner, Office of Internal Affairs, United States
Customs Service (1994) (available in Georgia State University College of Law
Library).
2. Id.
3. Id.
4. Id.
5. Id.; William M. Bulkeley, Cipher Probe: Popularity Overseas of Encryption Code
Has the U.S. Worried, WALL ST. J., Apr. 28, 1994, at Al.
6. The process of encoding data in this manner is generally referred to as the
science of cryptography. Software that encodes data using cryptography, therefore, is
referred to as cryptographic or encryption software. Those who practice the science
of cryptology are called cryptanalysts or cryptographers. WEBSTER'S NINTH NEW
COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 312 (1987).
7. Bulkeley, supra note 5.

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