Phil Zimmermann is a legend in the world of online privacy, having invented PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) in 1991 to create a way of creating cryptographic privacy and authentication to keep digital communications -- and entire computers -- safe from prying eyes. Zimmermann was in the news last Friday when a company he founded -- Silent Circle -- decided to shut down and delete all email messages on its servers rather than have the US government force them to hand over customer data. One fascinating item in the Forbes article about the Silent Circle email shutdown was Zimmermann's admission that he doesn't use email much anymore because "PGP doesn't run very well on a Mac these days."
PGP Corporation was purchased by software giant Symantec in 2010 for US$300 million, and according to Mac user Zimmermann, "Symantec hasn't kept that up. So I hardly ever run PGP." In lieu of email, Zimmermann says that he uses Silent Circle's mobile texting service and iOS app Silent Text instead.
Forbes' Parmy Olson asked Zimmermann if he expected more people to move from using email to more secure mobile messaging systems. In his reply, Zimmermann noted, "Mobile messaging is less clunky than email. Email has its place. Sometimes you want to have an audit trail of business communication. Sometimes that's a feature rather than a liability. So email is not going to go away, but if you want to send secure messages, there are more streamlined ways to do it now."
A CNET article earlier this year noted that the US Drug Enforcement Administration is unhappy with Apple's iMessage encryption, saying that that "It is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices" even with a court order approved by a federal judge. The moral of the story? If you want to keep prying eyes from your personal communications, start shifting away from email and use encrypted messaging instead.