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Enter stage left a veteran of internet privacy. Phil Zimmermann is known for inventing the standard in email encryption -- PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) -- in the 1990s and for giving it away to the world for free, much to the annoyance of the U.S. government, which considered encryption software to be weaponry at the time and therefore restricted for export.
Now he has a new bag of tricks which, from next month, will allow customers to scramble their mobile phone calls, text messages, emails and even video calls over Skype and Face Time. His company Silent Circle has a suite of four products that go live on September 17, and will be available to download worldwide to iPhones, Androids, desktops and laptops.
The software is for use over a private network, subscription to which costs $20 a month. This is because the encryption works on a peer-to-peer basis, so both parties ideally need to be within the system. It still works if only one person uses the app, but in that case a message will only be scrambled as far as Silent Circle's servers.
Silent Circle, itself based in National Harbor, in Maryland, and in Silicon Valley, has located its servers in Canada because it feels the country has superior privacy laws.
Zimmermann has always felt strongly about the right to private communication in the digital age and feels that it should be simple -- you dial a number and no one else can listen; you shouldn't have to be a rocket scientist to make your conversations secure.