TECH: Phil Zimmerman's Next Project: Secure Phone

From: Chris Rasch (
Date: Mon Feb 26 2001 - 13:49:53 MST

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 14:57:55 -0500
From: "R. A. Hettinga" <>
To: Digital Bearer Settlement List <>

Next on PGP creator's agenda: a secure phone
February 23, 2001 9:17 AM PT

When Phil Zimmermann published Pretty Good Privacy, the first encrypted
e-mail program, in 1991, he had no idea it would become the most popular
product of its kind. Nor did he know that it would spark a three-year
investigation by the U.S. government into whether he had broken federal
laws against exporting strong encryption. Having come through the
unscathed, Zimmermann eventually sold his company, PGP Inc., to Network
Associates Inc., staying on at the software concern to oversee
of future versions of his program. Earlier this week, Zimmermann left
for Hush Communications Inc., where he will become chief cryptographer.
Senior Writer Dennis Fisher talked with Zimmermann about why he left NAI
and his plans for the future.

eWEEK: Why did you decide to leave Network Associates now?

Zimmermann: I've had a long-standing position on publishing source code
crypto software. They didn't necessarily agree with that. I've been
on the same project [PGP] for 10 years, and as long as I continued to
there, they would own everything I do. I can't stay there forever.

eWEEK: Is there a sense of sadness at all now that you won't be working
PGP anymore?

Zimmermann: There is a sense of sadness, but I've been carrying the
for a long time. I have a special attachment to it. But I'm not going to
end my relationship with PGP. I talked to some of the engineers there
today. And I'll be helping Hush implement the OpenPGP standard. I've
PGP as far as I can at NAI. They have a very different application at
I have to get on with my career.

eWEEK: When you first wrote PGP, did you ever think encrypted e-mail
become as popular as it has?

Zimmermann: I thought it might become important, but what I didn't
anticipate was the interest the government would take in it. Honestly, I
was hoping it would be bigger than it is, but I think the ease-of-use
factor has held it back.

eWEEK: That's been one of the criticisms of PKI (public-key
in general for a long time. Do you think that has hurt its growth?

Zimmermann: It's tough for anyone to roll out PKI in a big enterprise.
That's what I find interesting about Hush: If you have Web-based mail,
don't have to install anything on the workstation. That's a lot easier
the IT manager's perspective.

eWEEK: What other projects are you working on now?

Zimmermann: I'm working on a secure phone. It's totally written in Java.
did one before in C, but it never went anywhere because IT managers
interested in it. It became an orphan product, and when NAI bought my
company, they didn't even know they had it. It should be out sometime in
the spring. We're starting to put the crypto in now. That's the easy
for me. The telephony is the hard part.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto:>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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