Encryption guru Phil Zimmerman has left Network Associates citing differences with the security giant about publishing the full source code for the latest version of the widely used encryption program, PGP.
Zimmerman, the creator of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), is leaving Network Associates (NAI) after three years as a senior fellow to work with security firm Hush Communications in developing encryption products based on the OpenPGP standard. He is also launching the OpenPGP Consortium to further interoperability of different vendors' implementations of the standard, embodied in IETF RFC 2440.
In a message to the encryption community at large, Zimmerman reiterated his faith that there were no "back doors" in PGP, the source code and trademark for which is owned by Network Associates.
"Let me assure all PGP users that all versions of PGP produced by NAI, and PGP Security, a division of NAI, up to and including the current (January 2001) release, PGP 7.0.3, are free of back doors," said Zimmerman.
Zimmerman explained he was leaving because Network Associates "has developed a different vision for PGP's future" and it was time for him to move onto other projects that fitted his objectives for enabling personal privacy.
"New senior management assumed control of PGP Security in the final months of 2000, and decided to reduce how much PGP source code they would publish. If NAI ever publishes the complete PGP 7.0.3 source code, I am confident that the public will be able to see that there are still no back doors," he said.
Zimmerman's decision to leave Network Association has been accepted with regret by the encryption community, who respect his integrity and see him as a guardian of the integrity of the product. However his decision isn't entirely surprising because the free-spirited Zimmerman always seemed out of place amongst the corporate suits and ex-NSA (National Security Agency) staffers who work for Network Associates.