Social network giant Facebook and credit card processor Stripe have announced that they will each donate $50,000 per year to fund the development of encryption software GNU Privacy Guard.
The news comes shortly after Propublica published an article about Werner Koch, the financially-struggling developer of the popular privacy software.
GNU Privacy Guard, also known as GnuPG, is an open source tool which allows users to encrypt emails, files, and other communications using the OpenPGP standard. Koch was inspired to create the software when he attended a talk by free software evangelist Richard Stallman in 1997. His first prototype for GnuPG was created that same year. He released the first production version to the public in 1999.
Koch received funding from the German government to continue the development of GnuPG, but said funding ran out in 2010. He revealed that he only made about $25,000 a year since 2001. This amount of money is much less than what he could have earned working for private companies as a software developer.
The sponsorships from Facebook and Stripe will help Koch to continue making improvements to GnuPG.
Facebook software engineer Scott Renfro said, “We think it’s important to have a diverse family of software that can stand the test of time, and this is a great opportunity to support such a project. GnuPG was started 17 years ago, and we hope it keeps improving for years to come.”