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A conversation with Phil Zimmermann

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Joseph Bonneau.

Phil Zimmermann is a veteran of the crypto wars of the 1990s, when governments tried to ban and then to control cryptography. After he wrote Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), which he made available online in 1991, he was arraigned before a grand jury on suspicion of violating export-control laws. PGP became the most widely-used encryption program in the world and the US government dropped its case in 1996. That attempt to control crypto petered out during the dotcom boom and was abandoned by Al Gore during the 2000 election.

But the surveillance state has constantly reinvented itself, from the illegal wiretapping of US citizens under George W. Bush to the proliferation of CCTV cameras in Britain and – now – the Interception Modernisation Program.

This rising tide of surveillance since 9/11 brought Phil back into the business of crypto activism with Zfone, a secure VOIP program.

This meeting will be structured not so much as a lecture but a conversation, which will range over the technology and policy of crypto wars old and new.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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