One of the developers of the TrueCrypt encryption program said it’s unlikely that fans will receive permission to start an independent “fork” that borrows from the current source code, a refusal that further clouds the future of the highly regarded application.
The reluctance surfaced in an e-mail published three weeks after TrueCrypt developers’ bombshell advisory that users should stop using the cross-platform whole disk encryption program. TrueCrypt has been held up by a variety of privacy advocates—former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden among them—as a reliable means to protect individual files or entire hard drive contents from the prying eyes of government agencies and criminal hackers. In the days immediately following last month’s TrueCrypt retirement, Johns Hopkins University professor Matt Green asked one of the secretive developers if it would be OK for other software engineers to use the existing source code to start an independent version. The developer responded:
I am sorry, but I think what you’re asking for here is impossible. I don’t feel that forking truecrypt would be a good idea, a complete rewrite was something we wanted to do for a while. I believe that starting from scratch wouldn’t require much more work than actually learning and understanding all of truecrypt’s current codebase.
I have no problem with the source code being used as reference.
The denial came in response to an e-mail in which Green said he suspected a TrueCrypt fork was inevitable, given the groundswell of interest in the program. Language in the TrueCrypt license raises the possibility that such independent projects will put developers at risk of violating contractual terms. Without the blessing of TrueCrypt developers, users may be forced to abandon the considerable amount of work already put into TrueCrypt. In his e-mail to the TrueCrypt developer, Green wrote:
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