Skip to main content

Open Specification for Pretty Good Privacy

Document Charter Open Specification for Pretty Good Privacy WG (openpgp)
Title Open Specification for Pretty Good Privacy
Last updated 2023-12-15
State Approved
WG State Active
IESG Responsible AD Paul Wouters
Charter edit AD Roman Danyliw
Send notices to (None)


OpenPGP standardized mechanisms for object encryption, object signing, and identity certification.

The working group is chartered to work on improvements and additions to the OpenPGP format and ecosystem to address certain issues that have been identified by the community, as set out in the list of in-scope topics below. Due to the WG having been dormant for a number of years, there is somewhat of a backlog of topics, and as addressing all of these topics at once seems difficult, the WG will follow the process defined below to prioritize current lists of milestones, selected from this long list of in-scope topics.

In-scope Topics

The working group will produce a number of specifications that are adjacent to the OpenPGP specification and provide guidance to OpenPGP libraries and/or applications.
These improvements may include:

Security improvements

  • Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC): The addition and facilitation of post-quantum algorithms for encryption and signing (using draft-wussler-openpgp-pqc) as initial input).

  • Forward secrecy: enable encrypted OpenPGP communication that cannot be decrypted when long-term keys are compromised.

  • Context binding: facilitate domain separation for signing and/or encryption.

New functionality

Network-based Key Discovery Mechanisms

Key Verification Mechanisms

  • Web-of-Trust (WoT): Specifying semantics for the WoT calculus (using the OpenPGP Web of Trust draft as initial input).

  • Key Transparency: in collaboration with the Key Transparency Working Group, e.g., integrating its outputs.

  • Key Verification: Improved manual key verification, for example using a QR code.

Miscellaneous Cleanup Work

  • Semantics: Define semantics of mechanisms provided by OpenPGP.
    This includes, but is not limited to, defining validity of signatures, acceptance and placement of signature subpackets, as well as structure and meaning of certificates and messages.

  • User ID Conventions: Properly document User ID conventions (using draft-dkg-openpgp-userid-conventions as initial input).

  • Revocation: Clarify and improve revocation semantics and workflows, including replacement of the deprecated Revocation Key mechanism (using draft-dkg-openpgp-revocation as initial input).

  • Message Grammar: Simplify the OpenPGP Message Grammar; e.g., by limiting nesting, or by constraining sequences of packet types.

  • PGP/MIME One-Pass Signatures: Extending RFC3156 to permit one-pass signature verification for v6 signatures

Working Group Process

All work items will require demonstration of interoperable support by at least two independent implementations before being submitted to the IESG for publication.

The WG chairs will periodically poll the WG for which of the topics above to add as milestones, as participant interest, document editor, review and implementer resources permit. The WG chairs will ensure that the list of active topics is credible at all times, likely resulting in only 3-4 topics being "active" at any given time. Such polls will typically result in the addition of a call-for-adoption for one or two new topics from the list above, depending on resources, and as currently active work is completed. As calls-for-adoption are held, those will also consider the intended-status (PS, informational, BCP) for the documents concerned. Completion will typically mean that a draft has passed working group last call or IETF last call, but, if needed, the chairs will make use of other datatracker IETF document states (e.g., parked WG document) if some document is stalled for technical or personnel reasons, leaving space for tackling another topic.

The set of initial milestones below was selected following discussion on the WG list following the above process, and will be updated periodically as milestones are met.