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Encryption freeware available outside of North America

I want to know about the license of freeware encryption and other utilities. Can a person outside the U.S. or Canada download encryption programs like PGP, which are also available as freeware? Or, is freeware restricted to the U.S. or Canada? There are certain encryption and compression libraries which are available free; what about those? Please let me know about the GPL-supported encryption utilities. Also, are there any restrictions in secure online storage solutions like Hush, Cryptoheaven, etc.?

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I can speak most authoritatively about U.S. law and a number of practicalities. Also, in case you don't know, I'm the CTO of PGP Corporation.

You can download PGP from any country except the usual seven: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, North Korea and Cuba.

At PGP, we have a few other restrictions we put in -- for example, we don't allow a download from some satellite Internet services that include Cuba in their swath of service. Why? Because it's better to be safe than sorry.

In regard to encryption and compression libraries, it depends completely on where they are hosted.

The GPL is a licensing strategy, nothing more than that. There are, however, a number of GPL licensed tools, including Gnu Privacy Guard, that are OpenPGP-compliant. Others, such as OpenSSL and OpenSSH, have much less restrictive licenses than the GPL.

Both Hush Communications and Cryptoheavan are based in Canada. They must therefore abide by Canadian law, which I am not an expert in. I think that they have the same restrictions as the U.S., but I could be wrong.


For more information on this topic, visit these other SearchSecurity.com resources:
  • Ask the Expert: Encryption for exporting
  • Best Web Links: Law, Public Policy & Standards


    This was first published in February 2003

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