Jargon Watch: Zimmermann’s Law

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Phil Zimmermann may not be a household name, but he should be. If it wasn’t for him and others like him fighting battles back in the 1990s about access to encryption e-commerce and PayPal wouldn’t have been possible. He wrote the original PGP encryption software to protect the contents of emails and was a co-founder of secure communications firm Silent Circle.

If you get a chance have a read of Crypto by Steven Levy which outlined the battle around cryptographic technology during the early 1990s

Mr Zimmermann did a wide ranging interview with Om Malik on the current state of privacy, of which one statement stood out which could be considered to be Zimmermann’s Law:

…the natural tendency of data and Moore’s Law is that data wants to be free. The natural flow of technology tends to move in the direction of making surveillance easier.

Big data intentionally creates a concentration of data and has a corrupting influence.

In spite of this, Mr Zimmermann has a positive outlook noting that cynicism has a paralysing effect on public discourse and the movement for positive change.

More information
Zimmermann’s Law: PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder Phil Zimmermann on the surveillance society | GigaOM