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Telcos need to get out of bed with the spooks

Zimmermann says the relationship is toxic

Phil Zimmermann, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy public-key encryption is trying to convince telecommunications companies that their nearly century-long cozy relationship with government is toxic.

He said that for a hundred years, phone companies around the world have created a culture around themselves that is very cooperative with governments in invading people’s privacy. Companies tend to think that there’s no other way and that they can’t break from the toxic culture.

He thinks that government demands for backdoors were silly because they need the technology themselves and if companies keep providing them they are actually helping governments undermine themselves. He said that was what happened in the early days of PGP.

“We needed to create the conditions where nobody was going to lean on us for backdoors because they need it themselves. If Navy SEALs are using this, if our own government develops a dependency on it, then they’ll recognize that it would be counter-productive for them to get a backdoor in our product,” he said.

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