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PEC. The Cryptographic Technology Group (CTG) at the Computer Security Division (CSD) at NIST intends to follow the progress of emerging technologies in the area of privacy enhancing cryptography (PEC). The PEC project seeks to promote the use of cryptographic protocols that enable promoting privacy goals. In this area, the technical challenge is often to enable parties to interact meaningfully, towards achieving an application goal, without revealing unneeded private information to one another or to third parties.
ZKP and SMPC. Some privacy-preserving applications can be based on zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) and, more generally, secure multi-party computation (SMPC). For example, ZKPs allow one party (the prover) to prove to another party (the verifier) that a given statement is true and/or that some mathematical solution is known to the prover. More generally, SMPC allows multiple parties, often mutually distrustful, to compute some functionality of their inputs, as if it were computed by a trusted third party. This means in particular that the computation occurs without sharing inputs, and while ensuring correct outputs.
Other primitives. There are many other cryptographic primitives of interest to privacy preserving application. For example, fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) allows performing computation on encrypted data without having to perform decryption, which in turn can be used to delegate computation to untrusted parties. Other examples of primitives include functional encryption, identity-based encryption, and attribute-based encryption.
Reference material. We believe the creation and dissemination of reference material (documents and implementations) is an important step for promoting the use of PEC. In the PEC project, we want to focus on reference material inspired by conceived use cases. Application areas include identification and authentication, commercial transactions, and social media. We give here a few examples:
Series of talks. In January 2020, the PEC project initiated the "Special Topics on Privacy and Public Auditability" (STPPA) series of talks. We plan to host events once every few months. Each event will include talks on various interconnected topics related to privacy and public auditability. The goal is to convey basic technical background, incite curiosity, suggest research questions, and discuss research directions.
About this webpage: The PEC project started in 2011 with a NIST meeting on PEC. This webpage will evolve to cover more material on previous activities related to the project. The project is reviving in 2019. This page is recently under reconstruction and will be updated with references and content.