Zimmermann's Law: PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder Phil Zimmermann on the surveillance society | GigaOM Tech News | Law | Scoop.it

Phil Zimmermann might be a technologist, but he tends to get philosophical when it comes to issues of privacy and security and how they intersect with our society. A cryptographer, in 1991, he created Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), an email encryption software and published it for free on the internet. Since then he has become an eloquent proponent for need for privacy and tools. Zimmermann has had his run-ins with the authorities in the past, but he is widely respected for his views on cryptography and privacy — one of the reasons why he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame and has been a recipient of multiple awards recognizing his achievements.


The spotlight fell on Zimmermann again this week when Silent Circle, a secure-private communications company he co-founded, decided to suspend its Silent Mail service amid fears of future government interference. That action followed on the heels of a decision by another secure and private email service provider, Lavabit, to shut down operations.


Given the frenetic nature of the news, I didn’t think I would get a chance to have a measured discussion with Zimmermann. Much to my surprise, he got on the phone and we ended up discussing everything from the rise of the surveillance state; big data and its devastating impact on society; data totalitarianism; the somewhat dubious role of Google and Facebook in our lives; and why as a society we can’t fall victim to the cynicism that is starting to permeate our lives. He also talked at length about the important role of our legislators in pushing back against the unstoppable tide of “survillenance society.”


The only thing we didn’t discuss at length — the whole Silent Mail malarkey. (Forbes’ Parmy Olson did a good job of interviewing Phil on the email shutdown and its impact on his customers.) These are excerpts from a conversation. I have edited my questions a tad (I tend to ramble a bit) and Phil’s comments are trimmed in parts where I had trouble reading my own shorthand/handwriting:


Click headline to read the interview--


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc