The first time I encountered the concept of a web of trust I was perusing the “Gnu Privacy Handbook” as any good privacy advocate would do. At the time that document was written in the late 1990s, PGP in email was a niche topic shared among security experts and enthusiasts, and while it is still widely used today, we normally expect end-to-end encryption to be taken care of for us. PGP, like Bitcoin, is made possible by public key cryptography. Initially, I assumed basic cryptography was enough to authenticate and prevent tampering of communications, so I was a bit taken aback to discover that a web of trust was integral to the process of sharing keys. Why would this be?

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