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. He is also known for his work in VoIP encryption protocols, notably ZRTP and Zfone. Zimmermann is co-founder and Chief Scientist of the global encrypted communications firm, Silent Circle.
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, Florida in 1978, and thereafter moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. In the 1980s, Zimmermann worked in Boulder, Colorado as a software engineer and was a part of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign as a military policy analyst.
Phil Zimmermann was a key player in the 90s Crypto Wars. The PGP software he authored was considered as munitions by the US government and subject to export licenses. The US government at this time was keen to avoid strong crypto falling into the hands of civilians and foreign governments. At this time the US government was also pushing for specialised key-escrowed chips that would perform encryption, but make the plaintext readable to NSA if necessary. This was rightly considered a gross violation of privacy, rights, and a huge security hole by the cypherpunks.