Phil Zimmermann

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Philip R. "Phil" Zimmermann Jr. (born February 12, 1954) is the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the most widely used email encryption software in the world.[citation needed] He is also known for his work in VoIP encryption protocols, notably ZRTP and Zfone.

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Background

He was born in Camden, New Jersey. His father was a concrete mixer truck driver. Zimmermann received a B.S. degree in computer science from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton in 1978, and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

PGP

In 1991, he wrote the popular Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) program, and made it available (together with its source code) through public FTP for download, the first widely available program implementing public-key cryptography. Shortly thereafter, it became available overseas via the Internet, though Zimmermann has said he had no part in its distribution outside the US.

Criminal investigation by US Customs

After a report from RSA Data Security, Inc., who were in a licensing dispute with regard to use of the RSA algorithm in PGP, the Customs Service started a criminal investigation of Zimmermann, for allegedly violating the Arms Export Control Act. The US Government had long regarded cryptographic software as a munition, and thus subject to arms trafficking export controls. At that time, the boundary between permitted ("low-strength") cryptography and impermissible ("high-strength") cryptography placed PGP well on the too-strong-to-export side (this boundary has since been relaxed). The investigation lasted three years, but was finally dropped without filing charges.

After the government dropped its case without indictment in early 1996, Zimmermann founded PGP Inc. and released an updated version of PGP and some additional related products. That company was acquired by Network Associates (NAI) in December 1997, and Zimmermann stayed on for three years as a Senior Fellow. NAI decided to drop the product line and in 2002, PGP was acquired from NAI by a new company called PGP Corporation. Zimmermann now serves as a special advisor and consultant to that firm. Zimmermann is also a fellow at the Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society. He was a principal designer of the cryptographic key agreement protocol (the "association model") for the Wireless USB standard.

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