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.
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 United States.
The very first version of PGP included an encryption algorithm, BassOmatic, developed by Zimmermann.
After a report from RSA Security, who were in a licensing dispute with regard to the use of the RSA algorithm in PGP, the United States Customs Service started a criminal investigation of Zimmermann, for allegedly violating the Arms Export Control Act. The United States Government had long regarded cryptographic software as a munition, and thus subject to [[export of cryptography|arms trafficking export controls. At that time, the boundary between what cryptography was permitted ("low-strength") and impermissible ("high-strength") for export from the United States was placed such that PGP fell on the too-strong-to-export side of the boundary. The boundary for legal export has since been raised and now allows PGP to be exported. 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. 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.
Along with Mike Janke, in 2012 he created Silent Circle, a secure hardware and subscription based software security company.
In October 2013, Zimmermann, along with other key employees from Silent Circle, teamed up with Lavabit founder Ladar Levison to create the Dark Mail Alliance. The goal of the organization is to work on a new protocol to replace PGP that will encrypt metadata, among other things that PGP is not capable of.
In 2013, an article on Zimmermann's Law quoted Phil Zimmermann as saying The natural flow of technology tends to move in the direction of making surveillance easier, and the ability of computers to track us doubles every eighteen months, in reference to Moore's Law.
Zimmermann has received numerous technical and humanitarian awards for his pioneering work in cryptography:
Simon Singh's The Code Book devotes an entire chapter to Zimmermann and PGP.