Internet-Draft Privacy Pass Architecture January 2023
Davidson, et al. Expires 3 August 2023 [Page]
Network Working Group
Intended Status:
A. Davidson
J. Iyengar
C. A. Wood

The Privacy Pass Architecture


This document specifies the Privacy Pass architecture and requirements for its constituent protocols used for constructing privacy-preserving authentication mechanisms. It provides recommendations on how the architecture should be deployed to ensure the privacy of clients and the security of all participating entities.

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 3 August 2023.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Privacy Pass is an architecture for authorization based on privacy-preserving authentication mechanisms. Typical approaches for authorizing clients, such as through the use of long-term cookies, are not privacy-friendly since they allow servers to track clients across sessions and interactions. Privacy Pass takes a different approach: instead of presenting linkable state carrying information to servers, e.g., a cookie indicating whether or not the client is an authorized user or has completed some prior challenge, clients present unlinkable proofs that attest to this information. These proofs, or tokens, are private in the sense that a given token cannot be linked to the protocol instance in which that token was initially issued.

At a high level, the Privacy Pass architecture consists of two protocols: redemption and issuance. The redemption protocol, described in [AUTHSCHEME], runs between Clients and Origins (servers). It allows Origins to challenge Clients to present tokens for authorization. Depending on the type of token, e.g., whether or not it can be cached, the Client either presents a previously obtained token or invokes an issuance protocol, such as [ISSUANCE], to acquire a token to present as authorization.

This document describes requirements for both redemption and issuance protocols and how they interact. It also provides recommendations on how the architecture should be deployed to ensure the privacy of clients and the security of all participating entities.

2. Terminology

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.

The following terms are used throughout this document.

3. Architecture

The Privacy Pass architecture consists of four logical entities -- Client, Origin, Issuer, and Attester -- that work in concert for token redemption and issuance. This section describes the purpose of token redemption and issuance and the requirements on the relevant participants.

The typical interaction flow for Privacy Pass uses the following steps:

  1. A Client interacts with an Origin by sending an HTTP request. The Origin sends an HTTP response that contains a token challenge that indicates a specific Issuer to use. Note that the request might be made as part of accessing a resource normally, or with the specific intent of triggering a token challenge.
  2. If the Client already has a token available that satisfies the token challenge, e.g., because the Client has a cache of previously issued tokens, it can skip to step 6 and redeem its token. Otherwise, it invokes the issuance protocol to request a token from the designated Issuer.
  3. The first step in the issuance protocol is attestation. Specifically, the Attester performs attestation checks on the Client. These checks could be proof of solving a CAPTCHA, device trust, hardware attestation, etc (see Section 3.2.1).
  4. If attestation succeeds, the client creates a Token Request to send to the designated Issuer (generally via the Attester). The Attester and Issuer might be functions on the same server, depending on the deployment model (see Section 4). Depending on the details of Attestation, the Client can send the Token Request to the Attester alongside any attestation information. If attestation fails, the Client receives an error and issuance aborts without a token.
  5. The Issuer generates a Token Response based on the Token Request, which is returned to the Client (generally via the Attester). Upon receiving the Token Response, the Client computes a token from the token challenge and Token Response. This token can be validated by anyone with the per-Issuer key, but cannot be linked to the content of the Token Request or Token Response.
  6. If the Client has a token, it includes it in a subsequent HTTP request to the Origin, as authorization. This token is sent only once. The Origin validates that the token was generated by the expected Issuer and has not already been redeemed for the corresponding token challenge. If the Client does not have a token, perhaps because issuance failed, the client does not reply to the Origin's challenge with a new request.
Origin Client Attester Issuer Request TokenChallenge Attestation TokenRequest TokenResponse Request + Token
Figure 1: Privacy pass redemption and issuance protocol interaction

The end-to-end flow for Privacy Pass involves three different types of contexts:

The privacy goals of Privacy Pass are oriented around unlinkability based on these contexts. In particular, Privacy Pass aims to achieve three different types of unlinkability:

  1. Origin-Client unlinkability. This means that given two redemption contexts, the Origin cannot determine if both redemption contexts correspond to the same Client or two different Clients. Informally, this means that a Client in a redemption context is indistinguishable from any other Client that might use the same redemption context. The set of Clients that share the same redemption context is referred to as a redemption anonymity set.
  2. Issuer-Client unlinkability. This is similar to Origin-Client unlinkability in that a Client in an issuer context is indistinguishable from any other Client that might use the same issuer context. The set of Clients that share the same redemption context is referred to as a redemption anonymity set.
  3. Attester-Origin unlinkability. This is similar to Origin-Client and Issuer-Client unlinkability. It means that given two attestation contexts, the Attester cannot determine if both contexts correspond to the same Origin or two different Origins. The set of Clients that share the same attestation context is referred to as an anonymity set.

At a high level, these properties ensure that no single party amongst the Attester, Issuer, or Origin can link client identifying information to client activity, e.g., the origin being accessed.

The manner in which Origin-Client, Issuer-Client, and Attester-Origin unlinkability are achieved depends on the deployment model, type of attestation, and issuance protocol details. For example, as discussed in Section 4, failure to use a privacy-enhancing proxy system such as Tor [Dingledine2004] when interacting with Attesters, Issuers, or Origins allows the set of possible Clients to be partitioned by the Client's IP address, and can therefore lead to unlinkability violations. Similarly, malicious Origins may attempt to link two redemption contexts together by using Client-specific Issuer public keys. See Section 4 and Section 6 for more information.

The remainder of this section describes the functional properties and security requirements of the redemption and issuance protocols in more detail.

3.1. Redemption Protocol

The Privacy Pass redemption protocol, described in [AUTHSCHEME], is an authorization protocol wherein Clients present tokens to Origins for authorization. Normally, redemption follows a challenge-response flow, wherein the Origin challenges Clients for a token with a TokenChallenge ([AUTHSCHEME], Section 2.1) and, if possible, Clients present a valid Token ([AUTHSCHEME], Section 2.2) in response. This interaction is shown below.

Origin Client TokenChallenge Issuance protocol Token
Figure 2: Challenge-response redemption protocol interaction

Alternatively, when configured to do so, Clients may opportunistically present Token values to Origins without a corresponding TokenChallenge.

The challenge provides the client with the information necessary to obtain tokens that the server might subsequently accept in the redemption context. There are a number of ways in which the token may vary based on this challenge, including:

  • Issuance protocol. The challenge identifies the type of issuance protocol required for producing the token. Different issuance protocols have different security properties, e.g., some issuance protocols may produce tokens that are publicly verifiable, whereas others may not have this property.
  • Issuer identity. Token challenges identify which Issuers are trusted for a given issuance protocol. Each Issuer, in turn, determines which Attesters it is willing to accept in the issuance protocol. This means that if an Origin origin.example accepts tokens issued by Issuer issuer.example, and that Issuer in turn accepts different types of attestation from more than one trusted Attester, then a Client may use either of these trusted Attesters to issue and redeem tokens for origin.example. However, origin.example neither explicitly specifies nor learns the Attesters or their attestation formats used for token issuance.
  • Redemption context. Challenges can be bound to a given redemption context, which influences a client's ability to pre-fetch and cache tokens. For example, an empty redemption context always allows tokens to be issued and redeemed non-interactively, whereas a fresh and random redemption context means that the redeemed token must be issued only after the client receives the challenge. See Section 2.1.1 of [AUTHSCHEME] for more details.
  • Per-Origin or cross-Origin. Challenges can be constrained to the Origin for which the challenge originated (referred to as per-Origin tokens), or can be used across multiple Origins (referred to as cross-Origin tokens). The set of Origins for which a cross-Origin token is applicable is referred to as the cross-Origin set.

Origins that admit cross-Origin tokens bear some risk of allowing tokens issued for one Origin to be spent in an interaction with another Origin. In particular, depending on the use case, Origins may need to maintain state to track redeemed tokens. For example, Origins that accept cross-Origin tokens across shared redemption contexts SHOULD track which tokens have been redeemed already in those redemption contexts, since these tokens can be issued and then spent multiple times in response to any such challenge. See Section 2.1.1 of [AUTHSCHEME] for discussion.

3.2. Issuance Protocol

The Privacy Pass issuance protocol, described in [ISSUANCE], is a two-message protocol that takes as input a TokenChallenge from the redemption protocol ([AUTHSCHEME], Section 2.1) and produces a Token ([AUTHSCHEME], Section 2.2), as shown in the figure below.

Origin Client Attester Issuer TokenChallenge Attestation TokenRequest Token TokenResponse
Figure 3: Issuance protocol interaction

Clients interact with the Attester and Issuer to produce a token in response to a challenge. The context in which an Attester vouches for a Client during issuance is referred to as the attestation context. This context includes all information associated with the issuance event, such as the timestamp of the event and Client visible information, including the IP address or other information specific to the type of attestation done.

Each issuance protocol may be different, e.g., in the number and types of participants, underlying cryptographic constructions used when issuing tokens, and even privacy properties.

Clients initiate the issuance protocol using the token challenge, a randomly generated nonce, and public key for the Issuer, all of which are the Client's private input to the protocol and ultimately bound to an output Token; see Section 2.2 of [AUTHSCHEME] for details. Future specifications may change or extend the Client's input to the issuance protocol to produce Tokens with a different structure.

The issuance protocol itself can be any interactive protocol between Client, Issuer, or other parties that produces a valid token bound to the Client's private input, subject to the following security requirements.

  1. Unconditional input secrecy. The issuance protocol MUST NOT reveal anything about the Client's private input, including the challenge and nonce, to the Attester or Issuer, regardless of the hardness assumptions of the underlying cryptographic protocol(s). The issuance protocol can reveal the Issuer public key for the purposes of determining which private key to use in producing the token. This property is sometimes also referred to as blindness.
  2. One-more forgery security. The issuance protocol MUST NOT allow malicious Clients or Attesters (acting as Clients) to forge tokens offline or otherwise without interacting with the Issuer directly.
  3. Concurrent security. The issuance protocol MUST be safe to run concurrently with arbitrarily many Clients, Attesters and Issuers.

See Section 3.2.4 for requirements on new issuance protocol variants and related extensions.

In the sections below, we describe the Attester and Issuer roles in more detail.

3.2.1. Attester Role

Attestation is an important part of the issuance protocol. In Privacy Pass, attestation is the process by which an Attester bears witness to, confirms, or authenticates a Client so as to verify a property about the Client that is required for Issuance. Clients explicitly trust Attesters to perform attestation correctly and in a way that does not violate their privacy.

[RFC9334] describes an architecture for attestation procedures. Using that architecture as a conceptual basis, Clients are RATS attesters that produce attestation evidence, and Attesters are RATS verifiers that appraise the validity of attestation evidence.

The type of attestation procedure is a deployment-specific option and outside the scope of the issuance protocol. Example attestation procedures are below.

  • Solving a CAPTCHA. Clients that solve CAPTCHA challenges can be attested to have this capability for the purpose of being ruled out as a bot or otherwise automated Client.
  • Presenting evidence of Client device validity. Some Clients run on trusted hardware that are capable of producing device-level attestation evidence.
  • Proving properties about Client state. Clients can be associated with state and the Attester can verify this state. Examples of state include the Client's geographic region and whether the Client has a valid application-layer account.

Attesters may support different types of attestation procedures. A type of attestation procedure is also referred as an attestation format.

In general, each attestation format has different security properties. For example, attesting to having a valid account is different from attesting to running on trusted hardware. In general, minimizing the set of attestation formats helps minimize the amount of information leaked through a token.

Each attestation format also has an impact on the overall system privacy. Requiring a conjunction of attestation types could decrease the overall anonymity set size. For example, the number of Clients that have solved a CAPTCHA in the past day, that have a valid account, and that are running on a trusted device is less than the number of Clients that have solved a CAPTCHA in the past day. Attesters SHOULD not admit attestation types that result in small anonymity sets.

The trustworthiness of Attesters depends on their ability to correctly and reliably perform attestation during the issuance protocol. Indeed, Issuers trust Attesters to correctly and reliably perform attestation. However, certain types of attestation can vary in value over time, e.g., if the attestation process is compromised or maliciously automated. These are considered exceptional events and require configuration changes to address the underlying cause. For example, if attestation is compromised because of a zero-day exploit on compliant devices, then the corresponding attestation format should be untrusted until the exploit is patched. Addressing changes in attestation quality is therefore a deployment-specific task. In Split Attester and Issuer deployments (see Section 4.4), Issuers can choose to remove compromised Attesters from their trusted set until the compromise is patched.

3.2.2. Issuer Role

In Privacy Pass, the Issuer is responsible for completing the issuance protocol for Clients that complete attestation through a trusted Attester. As described in Section 3.2.1, Issuers explicitly trust Attesters to correctly and reliably perform attestation. Origins explicitly trust Issuers to only issue tokens from trusted Attesters. Clients do not explicitly trust Issuers.

Depending on the deployment model case, issuance may require some form of Client anonymization service, similar to an IP-hiding proxy, so that Issuers cannot learn information about Clients. This can be provided by an explicit participant in the issuance protocol, or it can be provided via external means, such as through the use of an IP-hiding proxy service like Tor. In general, Clients SHOULD minimize or remove identifying information where possible when invoking the issuance protocol.

Issuers are uniquely identifiable by all Clients with a consistent identifier. In a web context, this identifier might be the Issuer host name. Issuers maintain one or more configurations, including issuance key pairs, for use in the issuance protocol. Issuers can rotate these configurations as needed to mitigate risk of compromise; see Section 6.2 for more considerations around configuration rotation. The Issuer public key for each active configuraton is made available to Origins and Clients for use in the issuance and redemption protocols.

3.2.3. Issuance Metadata

Certain instantiations of the issuance protocol may permit public or private metadata to be cryptographically bound to a token. As an example, one trivial way to include public metadata is to assign a unique Issuer public key for each value of metadata, such that N keys yields log2(N) bits of metadata. Metadata may be public or private.

Public metadata is that which clients can observe as part of the token issuance flow. Public metadata can either be transparent or opaque. For example, transparent public metadata is a value that the client either generates itself, or the Issuer provides during the issuance flow and the client can check for correctness. Opaque public metadata is metadata the client can see but cannot check for correctness. As an example, the opaque public metadata might be a "fraud detection signal", computed on behalf of the Issuer, during token issuance. In normal circumstances, Clients cannot determine if this value is correct or otherwise a tracking vector.

Private metadata is that which Clients cannot observe as part of the token issuance flow. Such instantiations can be built on the Private Metadata Bit construction from Kreuter et al. [KLOR20] or the attribute-based VOPRF from Huang et al. [HIJK21].

Metadata can be arbitrarily long or bounded in length. The amount of permitted metadata may be determined by application or by the underlying cryptographic protocol. The total amount of metadata bits included in a token is the sum of public and private metadata bits. Every bit of metadata can be used to partition the Client issuance or redemption anonymity sets; see Section 6.1 for more information.

3.2.4. Issuance Protocol Extensibility

The Privacy Pass architecture and ecosystem are both intended to be receptive to extensions that expand the current set of functionalities through new issuance protocols. Each issuance protocol MUST include a detailed analysis of the privacy impacts of the extension, why these impacts are justified, and guidelines on how to deploy the protocol to minimize any privacy impacts. Any extension to the Privacy Pass protocol MUST adhere to the guidelines specified in Section 3.2.2 for managing Issuer public key data.

4. Deployment Considerations

The Origin, Attester, and Issuer portrayed in Figure 1 can be instantiated and deployed in a number of ways. The deployment model directly influences the manner in which attestation, issuance, and redemption contexts are separated to achieve Origin-Client, Issuer-Client, and Attester-Origin unlinkability.

This section covers some expected deployment models and their corresponding security and privacy considerations. Each deployment model is described in terms of the trust relationships and communication patterns between Client, Attester, Issuer, and Origin.

The discussion below assumes non-collusion between entities that have access to the attestation, issuance, and redemption contexts, as collusion between such entities would enable linking of these contexts and may lead to unlinkability violations. Generally, this means that entities operated by separate parties do not collude. Mechanisms for enforcing non-collusion are out of scope for this architecture.

4.1. Shared Origin, Attester, Issuer

In this model, the Origin, Attester, and Issuer are all operated by the same entity, as shown in the figure below.

Client Attester Issuer Origin TokenChallenge | Attest | TokenRequest | TokenResponse | Token
Figure 4: Shared Deployment Model

This model represents the initial deployment of Privacy Pass, as described in [PrivacyPassCloudflare]. In this model, the Attester, Issuer, and Origin share the attestation, issuance, and redemption contexts. As a result, attestation mechanisms that can uniquely identify a Client, e.g., requiring that Clients authenticate with some type of application-layer account, are not appropriate, as they could lead to unlinkability violations.

Origin-Client, Issuer-Client, and Attester-Origin unlinkability requires that issuance and redemption events be separated over time, such as through the use of tokens with an empty redemption context, or be separated over space, such as through the use of an anonymizing proxy when connecting to the Origin.

4.2. Joint Attester and Issuer

In this model, the Attester and Issuer are operated by the same entity that is separate from the Origin. The Origin trusts the joint Attester and Issuer to perform attestation and issue Tokens. Clients interact with the joint Attester and Issuer for attestation and issuance. This arrangement is shown in the figure below.

Client Origin | TokenChallenge Attester Issuer Attest | TokenRequest | TokenResponse Token
Figure 5: Joint Attester and Issuer Deployment Model

This model is useful if an Origin wants to offload attestation and issuance to a trusted entity. In this model, the Attester and Issuer share an attestation and issuance context for the Client, which is separate from the Origin's redemption context.

For certain types of issuance protocols, this model achieves Origin-Client, Issuer-Client, and Attester-Origin unlinkability. However, issuance protocols that require the Issuer to learn information about the Origin, such as that which is described in [RATE-LIMITED], are not appropriate since they could lead to Attester-Origin unlinkability violations through the Origin name.

4.3. Joint Origin and Issuer

In this model, the Origin and Issuer are operated by the same entity, separate from the Attester, as shown in the figure below. The Issuer accepts token requests that come from trusted Attesters. Since the Attester and Issuer are separate entities, the Attester must authenticate itself to the Issuer. In settings where the Attester is a Client-trusted service, one way Attesters can authenticate to Issuers is via mutually-authenticated TLS. However, alernative authentication mechanisms are possible. This arrangement is shown below.

Client Issuer Origin | TokenChallenge Attester Attest TokenRequest | | TokenResponse Token
Figure 6: Joint Origin and Issuer Deployment Model

This model is useful for Origins that require Client-identifying attestation, e.g., through the use of application-layer account information, but do not otherwise want to learn information about individual Clients beyond what is observed during the token redemption, such as Client IP addresses.

In this model, attestation contexts are separate from issuer and redemption contexts. As a result, any type of attestation is suitable in this model. Moreover, any type of token challenge is suitable assuming there is more than one Origin involved, since no single party will have access to the identifying Client information and unique Origin information. If there is only a single Origin, then per-Origin tokens are not appropriate in this model, since the Attester can learn the redemption context. However, the Attester does not learn whether a token is per-Origin or cross-Origin.

4.4. Split Origin, Attester, Issuer

In this model, the Origin, Attester, and Issuer are all operated by different entities, as shown in the figure below. As with the joint Origin and Issuer model, the Issuer accepts token requests that come from trusted Attesters, and the details of that trust establishment depend on the issuance protocol and relationship between Attester and Issuer.

Client Origin | TokenChallenge Attester Attest Issuer TokenRequest | | TokenResponse Token
Figure 7: Split Deployment Model

This is the most general deployment model, and is necessary for some types of issuance protocols where the Attester plays a role in token issuance; see [RATE-LIMITED] for one such type of issuance protocol. In this model, the Attester, Issuer, and Origin have a separate view of the Client: the Attester sees potentially sensitive Client identifying information, such as account identifiers or IP addresses, the Issuer sees only the information necessary for issuance, and the Origin sees token challenges, corresponding tokens, and Client source information, such as their IP address. As a result, attestation, issuance, and redemption contexts are separate, and therefore any type of token challenge is suitable in this model as long as there is more than a single Origin. As in the Joint Origin and Issuer model in Section 4.3, if there is only a single Origin, then per-Origin tokens are not appropriate.

5. Centralization Considerations

A consequence of limiting the number of participants (Attesters or Issuers) in Privacy Pass deployments for meaningful privacy is that it forces concentrated centralization amongst those participants. [CENTRALIZATION] discusses several ways in which this might be mitigated. For example, a multi-stakeholder governance model could be established to determine what candidate participants are fit to operate as participants in a Privacy Pass deployment. This is precisely the system used to control the Web's trust model.

Alternatively, Privacy Pass deployments might mitigate this problem through implementation. For example, rather than centralize the role of attestation in one or few entities, attestation could be a distributed function performed by a quorum of many parties, provided that neither Issuers nor Origins learn which Attester implementations were chosen. As a result, Clients could have more opportunities to switch between attestation participants.

6. Privacy Considerations

The previous section discusses the impact of deployment details on Origin-Client, Issuer-Client, and Attester-Origin unlinkability. The value these properties affords to end users depends on the size of anonymity sets in which Clients or Origins are unlinkable. For example, consider two different deployments, one wherein there exists a redemption anonymity set of size two and another wherein there redemption anonymity set of size 232. Although Origin-Client unlinkabiity guarantees that the Origin cannot link any two requests to the same Client based on these contexts, respectively, the probability of determining the "true" Client is higher the smaller these sets become.

In practice, there are a number of ways in which the size of anonymity sets may be reduced or partitioned, though they all center around the concept of consistency. In particular, by definition, all Clients in an anonymity set share a consistent view of information needed to run the issuance and redemption protocols. An example type of information needed to run these protocols is the Issuer public key. When two Clients have inconsistent information, these Clients effectively have different redemption contexts and therefore belong in different anonymity sets.

The following sections discuss issues that can influence anonymity set size. For each issue, we discuss mitigations or safeguards to protect against the underlying problem.

6.1. Partitioning by Issuance Metadata

Any metadata bits of information can be used to further segment the size of the Client's anonymity set. Any Issuer that wanted to track a single Client could add a single metadata bit to Client tokens. For the tracked Client it would set the bit to 1, and 0 otherwise. Adding additional bits provides an exponential increase in tracking granularity similarly to introducing more Issuers (though with more potential targeting).

For this reason, the amount of metadata used by an Issuer in creating redemption tokens must be taken into account -- together with the bits of information that Issuers may learn about Clients otherwise. Since this metadata may be useful for practical deployments of Privacy Pass, Issuers must balance this against the reduction in Client privacy.

In general, limiting the amount of metadata permitted helps limit the extent to which metadata can uniquely identify individual Clients. Clients SHOULD bound the number of possible metadata values in practice. Most token types do not admit any metadata, so this bound is implicitly enforced. Moreover, Privacy Pass deployments SHOULD NOT use metadata unless its value has been assessed and weighed against the corresponding reduction in Client privacy.

6.2. Partitioning by Issuance Consistency

Anonymity sets can be partitioned by information used for the issuance protocol, including: metadata, Issuer configuration (keys), and Issuer selection.

Any issuance metadata bits of information can be used to partition the Client anonymity set. For example, any Issuer that wanted to track a single Client could add a single metadata bit to Client tokens. For the tracked Client it would set the bit to 1, and 0 otherwise. Adding additional bits provides an exponential increase in tracking granularity similarly to introducing more Issuers (though with more potential targeting).

The number of active Issuer configurations also contributes to anonymity set partitioning. In particular, when an Issuer updates their configuration and the corresponding key pair, any Client that invokes the issuance protocol with this configuration becomes be part of a set of Clients which also ran the issuance protocol using the same configuration. Issuer configuration updates, e.g., due to key rotation, are an important part of hedging against long-term private key compromise. In general, key rotations represent a trade-off between Client privacy and Issuer security. Therefore, it is important that key rotations occur on a regular cycle to reduce the harm of an Issuer key compromise.

Lastly, if Clients are willing to issue and redeem tokens from a large number of Issuers for a specific Origin, and that Origin accepts tokens from all Issuers, segregation can occur. In particular, if a Client obtains tokens from many Issuers and an Origin later challenges that Client for a token from each Issuer, the Origin can learn information about the Client. Each per-Issuer token that a Client holds essentially corresponds to a bit of information about the Client that Origin learns. Therefore, there is an exponential loss in privacy relative to the number of Issuers.

The fundamental problem here is that the number of possible issuance configurations, including the keys in use and the Issuer identities themselves, can partition the Client anonymity set. To mitigate this problem, Clients SHOULD bound the number of active issuance configurations per Origin as well as across Origins. Moreover, Clients SHOULD employ some form of consistency mechanism to ensure that they receive the same configuration information and are not being actively partitioned into smaller anonymity sets. See [CONSISTENCY] for possible consistency mechanisms. Depending on the deployment, the Attester might assist the Client in applying these consistency checks across clients. Failure to apply a consistency check can allow Client-specific keys to violate Origin-Client unlinkability.

6.3. Partitioning by Side-Channels

Side-channel attacks, such as those based on timing correlation, could be used to reduce anonymity set size. In particular, for interactive tokens that are bound to a Client-specific redemption context, the anonymity set of Clients during the issuance protocol consists of those Clients that started issuance between the time of the Origin's challenge and the corresponding token redemption. Depending on the number of Clients using a particular Issuer during that time window, the set can be small. Appliations should take such side channels into consideration before choosing a particular deployment model and type of token challenge and redemption context.

7. Security Considerations

This document describes security and privacy requirements for the Privacy Pass redemption and issuance protocols. It also describes deployment models and privacy considerations for using Privacy Pass within those models. Ensuring Client privacy -- separation of attestation and redemption contexts -- requires active work on behalf of the Client, especially in the presence of malicious Issuers and Origins. Implementing mitigations discused in Section 4 and Section 6 is therefore necessary to ensure that Privacy Pass offers meaningful privacy improvements to end-users.

8. References

8.1. Normative References

Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, , <>.
Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, , <>.

8.2. Informative 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-07, , <>.
Nottingham, M., "Internet Consolidation: What can Standards Efforts Do?", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-nottingham-avoiding-internet-centralization-07, , <>.
Davidson, A., Finkel, M., Thomson, M., and C. A. Wood, "Key Consistency and Discovery", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-privacypass-key-consistency-00, , <>.
Dingledine, R., Mathewson, N., and P. Syverson, "Tor: The Second-Generation Onion Router", , <>.
Huang, S., Iyengar, S., Jeyaraman, S., Kushwah, S., Lee, C. K., Luo, Z., Mohassel, P., Raghunathan, A., Shaikh, S., Sung, Y. C., and A. Zhang, "PrivateStats: De-Identified Authenticated Logging at Scale", , <>.
Celi, S., Davidson, A., Faz-Hernandez, A., Valdez, S., and C. A. Wood, "Privacy Pass Issuance Protocol", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-privacypass-protocol-07, , <>.
Kreuter, B., Lepoint, T., Orrù, M., Raykova, M., and Springer International Publishing, "Anonymous Tokens with Private Metadata Bit", Advances in Cryptology – CRYPTO 2020, pp. 308-336, DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-56784-2_11, , <>.
Sullivan, N., "Cloudflare Supports Privacy Pass", n.d., <>.
"Privacy Pass Browser Extension", n.d., <>.
Hendrickson, S., Iyengar, J., Pauly, T., Valdez, S., and C. A. Wood, "Rate-Limited Token Issuance Protocol", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-privacypass-rate-limit-tokens-03, , <>.
Birkholz, H., Thaler, D., Richardson, M., Smith, N., and W. Pan, "Remote ATtestation procedureS (RATS) Architecture", RFC 9334, DOI 10.17487/RFC9334, , <>.

Appendix A. Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Eric Kinnear, Scott Hendrickson, Tommy Pauly, Christopher Patton, Benjamin Schwartz, Martin Thomson, Steven Valdez and other contributors of the Privacy Pass Working Group for many helpful contributions to this document.

Authors' Addresses

Alex Davidson
Jana Iyengar
Christopher A. Wood
101 Townsend St
San Francisco,
United States of America