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The First OpenPGP E-mail Summit

Posted by Bjarni on April 20, 2015

This weekend I attended the first OpenPGP e-mail summit, mostly organized by Nico of the Enigmail project, generously hosted by Giegerich & Partner in Dreieich, Germany.

At the summit I met folks from Enigmail, Whiteout, Mailvelope, Google End-to-End and many other projects, including our very own Brennan Novak who presented his Modern PGP initiative and of course Werner and GnuPG itself. That was actually the main theme of the first day; presenting our respective projects and just getting to know each other. Most of us had never met before in person and I am pretty sure everyone learned something new.

The second day was more work focused. Common topics of interest were identified and then we split up into discussion groups to strategize and identify common problems and potential solutions. The groups I attended discussed the following issues:

  1. A proposal to encrypt or sign e-mail headers (Subject, From, To, ...)
  2. Searching encrypted mail
  3. Possible improvements to the PGP/MIME standard

There seemed to be a common consensus that there are some very real problems we should aim to solve together and standardize. As we have blogged about before, these are issues which Mailpile cares deeply about, so I was very happy to get a chance to share our experience, ideas and learn from the others. Further steps will be taken online, in code and on mailing lists.

Sessions I was unable to attend discussed topics such as key discovery, key certification, key synchronization, next-generation key servers, terminology and user-facing vocabulary and fostering ongoing collaboration between the attending projects.

All in all, the summit greatly exceeded my expectations. There was very little bickering or bike-shedding, and all attendees seemed happy to set aside their political differences in the interest of collaboration and improving the e-mail encryption ecosystem.

I look forward to working with all of them in the future.

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Weekly Status Summary

Done last week

  1. Started writing code again (fixing PGP-related bugs) in my local repository
  2. Responded to issues and pull requests on Github
  3. Exchanged e-mails with potential financial backers of the project
  4. Prepared a presentation and ideas for the OpenPGP summit
  5. Attended the OpenPGP summit

Plans for this week

  1. OpenPGP summit follow-up work
  2. Continue communicating with potential backers
  3. Drafting work plans for the summer, aiming to release Mailpile 1.0 this fall


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