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Philip R. "Phil" Zimmermann Jr. - creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption software

From Wikipedia:
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.[1] He is also known for his work in VoIP encryption protocols, notably ZRTP and Zfone.
1 Background2 PGP 2.1 Criminal investigation by US Customs2.2 Trivia3 In popular culture4 Awards5 Publications6 See also7 References8 External links

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.


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.[2] 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 served as a special advisor and consultant to that firm until Symantec acquired PGP Corporation in 2010.[1] 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.


In the very first version of PGP, an encryption algorithm was given the humorous name BassOmatic (after a skit on Saturday Night Live) and Pretty Good Privacy itself is named after a Lake Wobegon fictional grocery store named "Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery".[3]

In popular culture

Zimmermann's name appears in the novel The Da Vinci Code:

"Da Vinci had been a cryptography pioneer, Sophie knew, although he was seldom given credit. Sophie's university instructors, while presenting computer encryption methods for securing data, praised modern cryptologists like Zimmermann and Schneier but failed to mention that it was Leonardo who had invented one of the first rudimentary forms of public key encryption centuries ago."[4]

Simon Singh's The Code Book devotes a entire chapter to Zimmermann and PGP.[5]


Zimmermann has received numerous technical and humanitarian awards for his pioneering work in cryptography:

In 2012, Zimmermann was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society.[6] In 2008, PC World named Zimmermann one of the 'Top 50 Tech Visionaries' of the last 50 years. In 2006 eWeek ranked PGP 9th in the 25 Most Influential and Innovative Products introduced since the invention of the PC in 1981. In 2003 Reason named him a "Hero of Freedom"[7] In 2001 Zimmermann was inducted into the CRN Industry Hall of Fame. In 2000 InfoWorld named him one of the 'Top 10 Innovators in E-business'. In 1999 he received the Louis Brandeis Award from Privacy International. In 1998, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Secure Computing Magazine In 1996, he received the Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility for promoting the responsible use of technology. In 1995, he received the Chrysler Design Award for Innovation, and the Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In 1995, Newsweek also named Zimmermann one of the "Net 50", the 50 most influential people on the Internet. Publications

The Official PGP User's Guide, MIT Press, 1995[8]

PGP Source Code and Internals, MIT Press, 1995[9]
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