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Zero-Knowledge Says Future Plans for Open Source To Be Determined

Jun 15, 2001, 18:27 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

By Michael Hall, Editor

A spokesman for Zero-Knowledge has replied to questions regarding whether his company plans to continue to provide the source code to new versions of its products in the wake of its discontinuation of a Linux version and the move from free-of-charge downloads to a pay-only model. The move also represents a possible shift from a services-based revenue model.

Dov Smith, Director of Public Relations for the company, issued this statement:

"We believe transparency is an important part of the relationship between consumers and their security and privacy providers. That's why Zero-Knowledge has taken and will continue to take a leading role, among consumer-facing privacy and security companies, in pursuing a policy of openness with our customers. This includes activities such as publishing white papers, initiating peer review activities (including inviting outsiders to review our technology), and in some cases publishing source code. Source code that's already been released will remain available at http://opensource.zeroknowledge.com/. Any future plans or developments relating to publication of code will be announced as events warrant."

Zero-Knowledge, which produces the Freedom Internet Privacy Suite, has been lauded in the past for its embrace of the open source development model by figures in the open source community such as Eric S. Raymond, who was quoted in an October 2000 story appearing in the Montreal Gazette as noting that the management at Zero-Knowledge understood the logic behind making security software open source very well. People within the company were similarly enthusiastic at the time, saying in the same report that they'd decided to open the source to their products not to be trendy, but rather because the only way to guarantee that security software works exactly as advertised is if it remain "completely transparent and open," which "requires it to be open source."

Beyond the issues of development methodology and security most often cited by open source proponents, Zero-Knowledge's revenue model was also considered an indication of the potential success of a services-based business based around open source software, since Zero-Knowledge offered the software for no cost and a set of for-pay services to supplement the basic functionality of their software suite. With the discontinuation of no-cost downloads and the possible closure of source code to future products, it looks as if Zero-Knowledge is also backing away from that model.

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