First the summary for those people who don't like reading more than one paragraph. The address reaches one of several email keyservers. pgp-public-keys@keys.<country> goes only to key servers for <country>. A start has been made on other services such as In particular, see for more information.

The domain "" was registered last year in preparation for providing a simple and unified name space for PGP infrastructure such as key servers, software distribution sites and so on.

The first steps to populate the domain have now been taken. They are small steps, but we believe, important ones. Many more will be taken over the next few months. The first additions are for the email public key server network. The key servers are presently known by a number of different names, none of which are particularly obvious to the uninitiated. Worse, many of them are run by students or employees without the official backing of their host organizations. It's not surprising that some are unreliable and/or short-lived. A recent development, however, is that more and more servers are being run by CERT teams. Examples include those run by DFN-CERT (Germany), CERT-NL (Netherlands) and OxCERT (Oxford University). It is in the best interests of the teams that the keyservers be reliable and available. The validity of the keys themselves, of course, must be checked by their users with the usual signature checking built into PGP.

We have, therefore, set up "" as a set of equal-priority MX records in the DNS. What this means, in practice, is that email sent to will be sent to a randomly chosen keyserver. It probably doesn't matter which one, as the servers are synchronized. If the first server your mail system tries is not available, it should automatically try the other servers until one works. This should give a rather more rapid and sucessful response than the current mechanism. It is also rather easier for documentation writers, FAQ maintainers and such like to give advice which has a long shelf-life.

We recognize that, for efficiency reasons, users of key servers might want to be able to specify a local machine rather than be handed a randomly selected one. The old names will continue to work: the address (for example) will continue to reach the OxCERT keyserver and no others. However, we have also registered sub-domains of In particular, the records for "" will only map to machines for the United Kingdom. At the moment we have the following records in place, with the expectation that more will follow:      Germany          DFN-CERT      Norway           Univ. of Tromso      United Kingdom   OxCERT, Oxford      United States    MIT
Large regions, such as the US, will eventually have several servers, each of which will be the target of equal priority MX records. We expect the Netherlands to join in with very shortly.

Allocation of key servers to the domain is only the first step. Plans are advanced to set up a number of other sub-domains, all with the format <service>[.<region>] This structure allows for local customization and yet preserves the uniformity and simplicity of the naming scheme. For instance, the Web-site would, presumably, have the text of the pages in German and would be the site recommended in German documentation, while would be the principal archive of PGP-related material in Norway.

So far, only and have been allocated. The URL has more information on the domain as it currently exists and will be kept up to date as the domain becomes more populated.

Expect to see more developments along these lines later this year; all will be reported on

The following folk all had a hand in the initial stages of setting up

Piete Brooks              University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Borge Brunes              University of Tromso, Norway
Klaus-Peter Kossakowski   DFN-CERT, Germany
Brian LaMacchia           MIT, United States of America
Paul Leyland              OxCERT, United Kingdom
Teun Nijssen              CERT-NL, Netherlands