Internet-Draft PrivateToken Authentication Extensions November 2023
Hendrickson & Wood Expires 26 May 2024 [Page]
Privacy Pass
Intended Status:
Standards Track
S. Hendrickson
C. A. Wood
Cloudflare, Inc.

The PrivateToken HTTP Authentication Scheme Extensions Parameter


This document specifies a new parameter for the "PrivateToken" HTTP authentication scheme. This purpose of this parameter is to carry extensions for Privacy Pass protocols that support public metadata.

About This Document

This note is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

The latest revision of this draft can be found at Status information for this document may be found at

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Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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This Internet-Draft will expire on 26 May 2024.

1. Introduction

The primary Token structure in the "PrivateToken" HTTP authentication scheme [AUTHSCHEME] is composed as follows:

struct {
    uint16_t token_type;
    uint8_t nonce[32];
    uint8_t challenge_digest[32];
    uint8_t token_key_id[Nid];
    uint8_t authenticator[Nk];
} Token;

Functionally, this structure conveys a single bit of information from the issuance protocol: whether or not the token is valid (as indicated by a valid authenticator value). This structure does not admit any additional information to flow from the issuance protocol, including, for example, public metadata that is incorporated into the issuance protocol.

This document specifies a new parameter for the "PrivateToken" HTTP authentication scheme for carrying extensions. This extensions parameter, otherwise referred to as public metadata, is cryptographically bound to the Token structure via the Privacy Pass issuance protocol.

2. Conventions and Definitions

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

3. PrivateToken Extensions Parameter

As defined in Section 2.2 of [AUTHSCHEME], the "PrivateToken" authentication scheme defines one parameter, "token", which contains the base64url-encoded Token struct. This document defines a new parameter, "extensions," which contains the base64url-encoded representation of the following Extensions structure.

struct {
    ExtensionType extension_type;
    opaque extension_data<0..2^16-1>;
} Extension;

enum {
} ExtensionType;

struct {
    Extension extensions<0..2^16-1>;
} Extensions;

The contents of Extensions are a list of Extension values, each of which is a type-length-value structure whose semantics are determined by the type. The type and length of each extension are 2-octet integers, in network byte order. The length of the extensions list is also a is a 2-octet integer, in network byte order.

Clients, Issuers, and Origins all agree on the content and encoding of this Extensions structure, i.e., they agree on the same type-length-value list. The list MUST be ordered by ExtensionType value, from 1 to 65535. The value of the Extensions structure is used as-is when verifying the value of the corresponding "token" parameter in the "PrivateToken" authentication header. As an example, Clients presenting this extension parameter to origins would use an Authorization header field like the following:

Authorization: PrivateToken token="abc..." extensions="def..."

Future documents may specify extensions to be included in this structure. Registration details for these extensions are in Section 6.

Each Privacy Pass issuance protocol, identified by a token type, specifices the structure of the PrivateToken value to be used. Extensions are bound to the resulting tokens via the issuance protocol. In particular, the value of an Extensions structure is provided as metadata for the issuance protocol. Candidate issuance protocols are specified in [PUBLIC-ISSUANCE].

4. Extensions Negotiation

The mechanism by which Clients and Origins determine which set of extensions to provide for redemption is out of scope for this document. In some Privacy Pass deployments, the set of extensions may be well known Clients and Origins and therefore not require negotiation. In other settings, negotiation may be required. However, negotiation can raise privacy risks, especially if negotiation can be abused by Origins for partitioning Clients and risking Origin-Client unlinkability. Some of these risks may be mitigated if all Clients in a given redemption context respond to negotiation in the same manner. However, if Clients have different observable behavior, e.g., if certain extension use is determined by user choice, Origins can observe this differential behavior and therefore partition Clients in a redemption context.

5. Security Considerations

Privacy considerations for tokens that include additional information are discussed in Section 6.1 of [ARCHITECTURE]. Additional considerations for use of extensions, including those that arise when deciding which extensions to use, are described in Section 4.

6. IANA Considerations

IANA is requested to create a new "Privacy Pass PrivateToken Extensions" registry in the "Privacy Pass Parameters" page to list possible extension values and their meaning. Each extension has a two-byte type, so the maximum possible value is 0xFFFF = 65535.


  • Type: The two-byte extension type

  • Name: Name of the extension

  • Value: Syntax and semantics of the extension

  • Reference: Where this extension and its value are defined

  • Notes: Any notes associated with the entry

New entries in this registry are subject to the Specification Required registration policy ([RFC8126], Section 4.6). Designated experts need to ensure that the extension is sufficiently clearly defined and, importantly, has a clear description about the privacy implications of using the extension framed in the context of partitioning the client anonymity set as described in Section 6.1 of [ARCHITECTURE].

7. References

7.1. Normative References

Pauly, T., Valdez, S., and C. A. Wood, "The Privacy Pass HTTP Authentication Scheme", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-privacypass-auth-scheme-15, , <>.
Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, , <>.
Cotton, M., Leiba, B., and T. Narten, "Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26, RFC 8126, DOI 10.17487/RFC8126, , <>.
Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, , <>.

7.2. Informative References

Davidson, A., Iyengar, J., and C. A. Wood, "The Privacy Pass Architecture", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-privacypass-architecture-16, , <>.
Hendrickson, S. and C. A. Wood, "Public Metadata Issuance", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-hendrickson-privacypass-public-metadata-02, , <>.

Authors' Addresses

Scott Hendrickson
Christopher A. Wood
Cloudflare, Inc.