Pretty good hellraisin’

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Philip Zimmermann, our February 1994 Hellraiser, is rushing to finish what he tentatively calls Voice PGP, named after his uncrackable computer encryption program, Pretty Good Privacy. His new creation turns a personal computer into a secure telephone–much to the consternation of the feds.

Voice PGP uses a computer and high-speed modem to compress and encrypt the caller’s voice before transmitting it onto ordinary phone lines. Only the called party can decode what the user is saying, in real time. Why Zimmermann’s hurry? “We have a window of opportunity to fill this technology niche before the government acts,” he says. Otherwise, once U.S. intelligence gets its hands on telephone surveillance technology, “it will be like putting a sticker on every phone that says, ‘J. Edgar Hoover inside.'”

Zimmermann and other cypherpunks are already disturbed by the government’s decision to install the Clipper chip (an encryption device whose passwords are known to both the user and the feds) in computer communications software. His aim is to get Voice PGP out there (for free, like PGP) and widely in use by the end of the year.

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate