Internet Security and Privacy
Discussion of free speech, privacy, and open standards for encryption with Philip R. Zimmermann, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP).
Philip Zimmermann, creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)
Hear Phil's audio presentation.
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At the inaugural Internet Security and Privacy event, Philip Zimmermann, the creator of the world's most popular email encryption software, Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), spoke to a standing-room-only audience in San Francisco. A decade ago, the Federal government accused Phil of violating the Arms Export Control Act for munitions trafficking. The government claimed that U.S. national security was jeopardized when PGP was spread around the world as free encryption software. The investigation of Phil Zimmermann continued for three years. The feds eventually dropped their case.
Phil spoke about the current Dmitry Sklyarov case. Dmitry is a Russian programmer who was thrown in jail by the federal government at the behest of Adobe. Adobe claims that software Dmitry created for his employer in Russia violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). After meetings with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Adobe had a change of heart and asked the feds to drop criminal charges against Dmitry. Phil characterized criminal law as a "blunt instrument" when used to enforce encryption software policies. Phil also related to the terror of having the federal government threaten you with incarceration for writing a piece of code.
Phil went on to discuss another current criminal case, that against Nicodemo S. Scarfo, in which the FBI used electronic eavesdropping to access data which Mr. Scarfo had reportedly encrypted with PGP. While the FBI had a search warrant, Phil believes law enforcement should be held to the higher wire-tap standards before permitting on-going electronic surveillance.
Phil also had a number of stories to tell about the development of PGP and his efforts to get permission to export that software. Only one episode involved the brandishing of automatic weapons in a bank building, however.
You can listen to an audio recording of the event, by clicking on the MP3 link below.