Werner Koch

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Werner Koch
Werner Koch Portrait 01.2015-2.jpg
Koch in 2015.
Born (1961-07-11) July 11, 1961 (age 55)
Residence Erkrath, Germany
Nationality German
Occupation Software developer
Known for GNU Privacy Guard
Website werner.eifelkommune.de

Werner Koch (born July 11, 1961) is a German free software developer.[1] He is best known as the principal author of the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG or GPG).[2] He was also Head of Office and German Vice-Chancellor of the Free Software Foundation Europe. He is the winner of Award for the Advancement of Free Software in 2015 for founding GnuPG.[3]

Journalists and security professionals rely on GnuPG, and Edward Snowden used it to evade monitoring whilst he leaked classified information from the U.S. National Security Agency.[4]

Life and work[edit]

Koch lives in Erkrath, near Düsseldorf, Germany. He began writing GNU Privacy Guard in 1997, inspired by attending a talk by Richard Stallman who made a call for someone to write a replacement for Phil Zimmermann's Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) which was subject to U.S. export restrictions.[2] The first release of GNU Privacy Guard was in 1999 and it went on to become the basis for most of the popular email encryption programs: GPGTools, Enigmail, and Koch's own Gpg4win, the primary free encryption program for Microsoft Windows.[2]

In 1999 Koch, via the German Unix User Group which he served on the board of,[2] received a grant of 318,000 marks (about $170,000 US) from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology to make GPG compatible with Microsoft Windows.[1] In 2005 he received a contract from the German government to support the development of S/MIME.

Journalists and security professionals rely on GnuPG, and Edward Snowden used it to evade monitoring whilst he leaked classified information from the U.S. National Security Agency.[4] Despite GnuPG's popularity, Koch has struggled to survive financially, earning about $25,000 US per year since 2001[2] and thus considered abandoning the project and taking a better paying programming job.[4] However, given Snowden's leaked documents showed the extent of NSA surveillance, Koch continued.[4] In 2014 he held a funding drive and in response received $137,000 US in donations from the public,[2] and Facebook and Stripe each pledged to annually donate $50,000 US to GPG development.[2][5] Unrelated, in 2015 Koch was also awarded a one-time grant of $60,000 US from the Linux Foundation's Core Infrastructure Initiative.[5][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wayner, Peter (November 19, 1999). "Germany Awards Grant for Encryption". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Angwin, Julia (February 5, 2015). "The World’s Email Encryption Software Relies on One Guy, Who is Going Broke". ProPublica. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ Library Freedom Project and Werner Koch are 2015 Free Software Awards winners FSF
  4. ^ a b c d Goodin, Dan (6 February 2015). "Once-starving GnuPG crypto project gets a windfall. Now comes the hard part". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Thomson, Iain (5 February 2015). "Internet lobs $$$s at dev of crucial GPG tool after he runs short of cash". The Register. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Zemlin, Jim (8 February 2015). "Answering the Call for Werner Koch’s Everywhere". Linux Foundation. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 

External links[edit]