Skip to main content

Privacy Preserving Measurement

Document Charter Privacy Preserving Measurement WG (ppm)
Title Privacy Preserving Measurement
Last updated 2022-03-07
State Approved
WG State Active
IESG Responsible AD Deb Cooley
Charter edit AD Roman Danyliw
Send notices to (None)


There are many situations in which it is desirable to take measurements of data which people consider sensitive. For instance, a browser company might want to measure web sites that do not render properly without learning which users visit those sites, or a public health authority might want to measure exposure to some disease without learning the identities of those exposed. In these cases, the entity taking the measurement is not interested in people's individual responses but rather in aggregated data (e.g., how many users had errors on site X). Conventional methods require collecting individual measurements in plaintext and then aggregating them, thus representing a threat to user privacy and rendering many such measurements difficult and impractical.

New cryptographic techniques address this gap through a variety of approaches, all of which aim to ensure that the server (or multiple, non-colluding servers) can compute the aggregated value without learning the value of individual measurements. The Privacy Preserving Measurement (PPM) work will standardize protocols for deployment of these techniques on the Internet. This will include mechanisms for:

  • Client submission of individual measurements, potentially along with proofs of validity

  • Verification of validity proofs by the server(s), if sent by client

  • Computation of aggregate values by the server(s) and reporting of results to the entity taking the measurement

A successful PPM system assumes that clients and servers are configured with each other's identities and details of the types of measurements to be taken. This is assumed to happen out of band and will not be standardized in this WG.

The WG will deliver one or more protocols which can accommodate multiple PPM algorithms. The initial deliverables will support the calculation of simple predefined statistical aggregates such as averages, as well as calculations of the values that most frequently appear in individual measurements. The PPM protocols will use cryptographic algorithms and protocols defined by the CFRG to enable privacy-preserving properties. The protocol will be designed to limit abuse by both client and server, including exposure of individual user measurements and denial of service attacks on the measurement system. The resulting document(s) shall consider deployment contexts, and clearly describe abuse cases and remaining attacks which are not prevented or mitigated by the protocol(s).

The starting point for PPM WG discussions shall be draft-gpew-priv-ppm.