Encryption keys in the OpenPGP spec

James P. Howard, II jh at jameshoward.us
Mon Jul 27 17:15:53 CEST 2009

On Sun Jul 26 2009 23:09:18 GMT-0400 (EST) , David Shaw
<dshaw at jabberwocky.com> wrote:

> Because it is difficult (or nearly impossible) to determine the 
> difference from the perspective of GnuPG.  That is, I as a person
> know what I'm encrypting and what I plan on doing with it, but GnuPG
> just sees bits.  As a general-purpose OpenPGP tool, GnuPG pretty much
> needs to treat both communications and storage as the same thing.
> Other tools for more specific environments may "know" what their
> usage is and can treat this differently.
> This is expected behavior - the OpenPGP standard even mentions it:
> Note however, that it is a thorny issue to determine what is
> "communications" and what is "storage".  This decision is left wholly
> up to the implementation; the authors of this document do not claim
> any special wisdom on the issue and realize that accepted opinion may
> change.

I noticed this, too.  But since I also do not claim any special wisdom
on the issue, I was hoping someone would.  Since we all seem to agree
that communication and storage is difficult to distinguish, can someone
suggest why different keys may be desired in different circumstances?


James P. Howard, II, MPA
jh at jameshoward.us

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