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WSJ Data Transparency Code-a-Thon


Public key distribution would be easier if we could use our Facebook and other social network accounts. We'll try to create a Facebook app and browser extension to make this process easier.

Our team: Sameer Parekh, Saad Mir, Nick Doty

What are you building: A tool to help you create and install a PGP key pair in your Facebook profile and consume your friends public keys.

Who is it for: Facebook users who would like encrypted messaging but don't understand the complexities of PGP key management.

Our goal for this weekend: A browser extension and a Facebook app to help create key pairs and install them in your Facebook profile, and potentially also let you view them in a friendly way, install them in a key chain, use them to encrypt messages, etc.

Our starting point: The general idea of Social Keys comes from Stanford guys; one of us started a skeleton of this code in a past hackathon, but for the most part this functionality is from scratch.

What we got done: A Chrome extension that interprets a public key, submits it to a keyserver, updates your Facebook profile with that key and then interprets other keys it sees on Facebook profiles as public keys. (Still to be done: generate the GPG key itself locally in the browser extension, pull friends' public keys into your keyring, send an encrypted message via Facebook API, reveal signature information.)

Who benefits: Right now, users who can generate a key but want to share it more easily and visibly with their non-technical friends. Once we've developed it end-to-end it can help non-technical users who don't understand PGP keys to start using encryption.

Sustainability/future: We are sharing all of this code on Github, and plan to release it under a GPL license (for one thing, we're using a JavaScript library that is GPL-licensed). We hope that academics who have written in this area (and all of you!) will continue to build on this code. By exposing and encouraging adoption of PGP keys for encryption, we hope this project will encourage use of the many other existing tools for public key encryption.



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