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Javascript Object Signing and Encryption (jose)

WG Name Javascript Object Signing and Encryption
Acronym jose
Area Security Area (sec)
State Active
Charter charter-ietf-jose-04 Approved
Status update Show Changed 2016-07-19
Document dependencies
Additional resources Issue tracker, Wiki
Personnel Chairs John Bradley, John Preuß Mattsson, Karen O'Donoghue
Area Director Deb Cooley
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Charter for Working Group

The original JSON Object Signing and Encryption (JOSE) working group standardized JSON-based representations for: Integrity-protected objects (JSON Web Signatures/JWS, RFC 7515), Encrypted objects (JSON Web Encryption/JWE, RFC7516), Key representations (JSON Web Key/JWK, RFC 7517), Algorithm definitions (JSON Web Algorithms/JWA, RFC 7518), and Test vectors for the above (Examples of Protecting Content Using JSON Object Signing and Encryption, RFC 7520).

These were used to define the JSON Web Token (JWT) (RFC 7519), which in turn, has seen widespread deployment in areas as diverse as digital identity and secure telephony.

As adoption of these standards to express and communicate sensitive data has grown, so too has an increasing societal focus on privacy. User consent, minimal disclosure, and unlinkability are common privacy themes in identity solutions.

A multi-decade research activity for a sizeable academic and applied cryptography community has focused on these privacy and knowledge mechanisms (often referred to as anonymous credentials). Certain cryptographic techniques developed in this space involve pairing-friendly curves and zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) (to name just a few). Some of the benefits of ZKP algorithms include unlinkability, selective disclosure, and the ability to use predicate proofs.

The current container formats defined by JOSE and JWT are not able to represent data using ZKP algorithms. Among the reasons are that most require an additional transform or finalize step, many are designed to operate on sets and not single messages, and the interface to ZKP algorithms has more inputs than conventional signing algorithms. The reconstituted JOSE working group will address these new needs, while reusing aspects of JOSE and JWT, where applicable.

This group is chartered to work on the following goals:

  • An Informational document detailing Use Cases and Requirements for new specifications enabling JSON-based selective disclosure and zero-knowledge proofs.

  • Standards Track document(s) specifying representation(s) of independently-disclosable integrity-protected sets of data and/or proofs using JSON-based data structures, which also aims to prevent the ability to correlate by different verifiers.

  • Standards Track document(s) specifying representation(s) of JSON-based claims and/or proofs enabling selective disclosure of these claims and/or proofs, and that also aims to prevent the ability to correlate by different verifiers.

  • Standards Track document(s) specifying how to use existing cryptographic algorithms and defining their algorithm identifiers. The working group will not invent new cryptographic algorithms.

  • Standards Track document(s) specifying how to represent keys for these new algorithms as JSON Web Keys (JWKs).

  • Informational document(s) defining test vectors for these new specifications.

  • Standards Track document(s) defining CBOR-based representations corresponding to all the above, building upon the COSE and CWT specifications in the same way that the above build on JOSE and JWT.

One or more of these goals may be combined into a single document, in which case the concrete milestones for these goals will be satisfied by the consolidated document(s).

The JOSE working group will also maintain the JOSE standard and facilitate discussion of clarifications, improvements, and extensions to JWS, JWE, JWA, and JWK. The WG will evaluate, and potentially adopt, proposed standard documents dealing with algorithms that would fit the criteria of being IETF consensus algorithms. Potential candidates would include those algorithms that have been evaluated by the CFRG and algorithms which have gone through a public review and evaluation process such as was done for the NIST SHA-3 algorithms. Potential candidates would not include national-standards-based algorithms that have not gone through a similar public review process. The WG may also publish informational and BCP documents describing the proper use of these algorithms in JOSE.

An informal goal of the working group is close coordination with the rechartered W3C Verifiable Credentials WG, which has taken a dependency on this work for the second version of its Verifiable Credentials specification. The working group will also coordinate with the Selective Disclosure JWT work in the OAuth working group, the Privacy Pass working group, the CBOR working group, the COSE working group, and the CFRG.


Date Milestone Associated documents
Apr 2025 Adopt document describing the use of the NIST algorithm FN-DSA in JOSE (as proposed standard)
Apr 2024 Adopt document describing the use of the NIST algorithm SLH-DSA in JOSE (as proposed standard)
Apr 2024 Adopt document describing the use of the NIST algorithm ML-DSA in JOSE (as proposed standard)
Apr 2024 Adopt document describing the use of the NIST algorithm ML-KEM in JOSE (as proposed standard)
Jan 2024 Adopt document registering cryptographic algorithm identifiers that fully specify the cryptographic operations to be performed (as proposed standard)