PGP stands for “Pretty Good Privacy.” It is an encryption program. What encryption does is hide information from people who do not know the “secret word” to reveal the information. Louis J. Freeh, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, says the honest have nothing to hide, and only criminals would use encryption. The honest, goes the implication, have no need of encryption. Let us think about that, for just a minute. The honest have no need of encryption: they can live completely open lives, and this is desirable. Their virtue is their defense. This is an attractive argument, but let us see where it takes us. By this same reasoning, the honest have no need of shades on their windows. The honest have no need for bathroom doors — or front doors, for that matter. The honest have no need to seal the envelopes into which they put their letters or their bill payments. The honest have no need to take their credit card receipts — complete with account number, expiration date, and signature — but should just leave them at the sales counter for whoever needs a piece of scrap paper. The honest have no need to look at anything anyone asks them to sign, but should just sign. The honest should publish their medical records in their local newspaper. The honest should have their social security numbers and birth dates on their checks, along with their names and addresses. The honest should write their PINs on their ATM cards. I think we can imagine a world where being “honest” as in these examples would be, shall we say, “differently clued.” I also think that world could easily look a lot like the one in which we live. Virtue is a defense, and a good one. But virtue is a defense against false accusation — not victimization. One would think the FBI could tell the difference. That I use encryption does not mean I am a criminal. It means I recognize that there are people about who are, or could be tempted into being, less than perfectl…
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