An organisation formed to promote compatibility between different implementations of OpenPGP standard does not include Network Associates, which is the main supplier of PGP-based encryption products for business.
The OpenPGP Alliance, which was founded by PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, doesn't include Network Associates, whose PGP Security division owns the source code and trademark for the popular PGP encryption package first developed by Zimmermann in 1991.
Zimmermann left Network Associates (NAI) earlier this year after an argument about publishing the source code of PGP, which he believed was the only way to prove to the encryption community that the software was secure.
After disagreeing with management on this matter of principle Zimmermann left NAI to join Hush Communications as its chief cryptographer and promote the OpenPGP standard.
OpenPGP, a non-proprietary protocol for encrypting email using public key cryptography based on the PGP program, was submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in 1997. By becoming an IETF standard (RFC 2440), OpenPGP may be implemented by any company without paying any licensing fees.
Founder member of the OpenPGP Alliance include Qualcomm as well as security firms Hush Communications, SSH Communications Security, and Zero-Knowledge Systems.
Zimmermann said "by co-operating to ensure that different secure email systems work together, companies do not have to feel they are going it alone".
Interoperability between different encryption packages is an important issue and so formation of the OpenPGP Alliance is welcome but the lack of involvement of Network Associates could be a stumbling block in the future. ®