OpenPGP is one of the oldest and most popular standards for sending and receiving end-to-end encrypted and signed emails. Many activists, journalists and others rely on it for their security. But for a system like this to work, you also need a way of getting access to the keys for your correspondents. Traditionally, the OpenPGP ecosystem has used many different methods for this, but key servers is arguably the most common. However, the older versions of key servers had associated problems that led to many people abandoning their use completely.
Over the last few years, a group of people decided that this was throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and started the OpenPGP Key Server, to try to retain some of the benefits of key servers, while also reducing the problems older systems had. This includes the possibility of verifying the email address for a key you upload, and avoiding the distribution of signatures.
The last three years, more and more OpenPGP software started to use this key server, often as the default. But the project started as many do - hobbyists and technologists simply creating something they felt was needed. Because of the growth of the solution, it was decided that it’s time to formalize the structure of the project a little bit. A bootstrap committee was created to manage the process of selecting a board. You can find all information about this process in the GitLab project, including the constitution and electoral process. Then, a voting body was constituted - this was done by inviting everyone that had participated in one of the OpenPGP summits. The final voting body consisted of 39 people. This voting body then self-nominated candidates, and an approval voting process was used. The participation was higher than anyone expected - 36 votes were received. At the end of the process, a board was constituted, and will start it’s first term from December 01, 2022.
Ola Bini, the technical director of CAD, was part of the voting body and also self-nominated for the board. With gratitude for the confidence and trust from the rest of the voting body, Ola ended up being elected for one of the board seats. We at CAD are happy that we will be able to contribute to this important responsibility. OpenPGP is a crucial part of encrypted email, and a working key server is a huge component. We are honored to be able to contribute to this part of the open and free ecosystem.
We would also like to thank all the members of the voting body, and additionally publicly mention that we very much look forward to working together with the rest of the first board, Vincent Breitmoser, Daniel Huigens, Neal H. Walfield and Lukas Pitschl. Also a huge thank you to Vincent for driving and creating the initial version of the OpenPGP keyserver, and to Patrick Brunschwig, Lars Wirzenius, Daniel Kahn Gillmor and Vincent for running the bootstrap committee and making this all happen.
If anyone has suggestions or comments about the OpenPGP key server, please don’t hesitate to contact Ola Bini. We are also looking for suggestions for new members to voting body - if you know someone that has a stake in the OpenPGP ecosystem, please nominate them by sending us an email.