TechCrunch on Facebook supporting PGP for sending encrypted notification emails and also allowing users to post their public keys on their profile:

Facebook uses the well-established PGP scheme (the GNU Privacy Guard implementation of OpenPGP, to be precise) to encrypt messages and tools like Mailvelope for Gmail users now make it a bit more straightforward to generate and manage keys in order to read and write encrypted emails. It’s still by no means a completely trivial procedure, and you still need to have a basic understanding of what you are doing.

Facebook acknowledges as much and points potential users to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s introduction to PGP. Sadly, Facebook made no attempt at hiding the complexity of using PGP, so it’s unlikely that many regular users will actually sign up for it.

The company says it’s rolling out this new feature slowly the feature is now available globally. If you want to see if it’s available for your account, head to your Facebook settings, look for the contact info section and you should see the option to add a PGP public key.

It is great to see a large web-based company like Facebook support encryption, but unfortunate they did not dumb this down enough for the lowest common denominator. It would have been nice to see Facebook offer a tutorial of some sort, and help instruct the average user on how to use PGP to secure their communications.

At the very least, this is a nice start.

Patrick Howell O’Neill of The Daily Dot on Phil Zimmerman, the creator of the infamous Pretty Good Privacy, moving to Switzerland to escape US government interference in cryptography research:

Zimmerman, 61, created PGP (Pretty Good Privacy, the most popular email encryption software ever made), found the mobile encryption firm Silent Circle, and developed numerous other cutting-edge encryption technologies. He has been a pioneer in the privacy and surveillance communities for decades.

“Every dystopian society has excessive surveillance, but now we see even western democracies like the US and England moving that way,” Zimmerman told theGuardian. “We have to roll this back. People who are not suspected of committing crimes should not have information collected and stored in a database. We don’t want to become like North Korea.”

The US needs to tread carefully here, otherwise the country risks losing top intellectual minds in important areas like cryptography, if it truly intends to follow through with some of these dangerous ideas.