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Re: Comments on Content Transformation Guidelines?

From: Dennis Bournique <db@wapreview.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 10:29:56 -0700 (PDT)
To: public-bpwg-comments@w3.org
Message-ID: <957588.75347.qm@web81603.mail.mud.yahoo.com>

My name is Dennis Bournique. I write about mobile browsing, primarily from a user perspective, at http://wapreview.com.  I've done a little web development, mostly mobile specific sites, but I'm by no means an expert on the technical side of this issue.

Putting on my user hat, I'd like to make a request that the Content Transformation Guidelines include a requirement that content transformation proxies "must" provide end users (consumers of web content) with a way to turn off transformation both globally and on a site by site basis.

As an end user, I’ve experienced both the joys and the frustrations of using content transformation proxies.

In general, I believe in content transformation as a valuable tool to make web content, which would otherwise be difficult or impossible to use, available through the limited browsers of many mobile phones.

I have also been frustrated when a carrier or content provider unilaterally imposes content transformation with no way for me to disable it. I've been unable to access content through content transformation proxies that was previously available on the same device using a direct connection. This has happened both with installable content such as midlets and ringtones and also with pure html and xhtml pages, including mobile optimized pages and those that are not.  I have also seen my secure end to end HTTPS traffic being forced through content transformation proxies, exposing it to the potential for a "man in the middle" attack.

I understand that the Guidelines are intended to prevent these sorts of problems by specifying when content transformation proxies must allow content to flow directly between server and user agent without modification. This is good, but no technical solution can ever be perfect.  There will always be edge cases where content transformation does more harm than good. For this reason it is important that end users have the option to opt-out of content transformation.  

I propose that the Guidelines be amended to include the following or similar language.

"...1. Content transformation proxies, if they are modifying traffic between a server and a user agent in any way, MUST provide a mechanism allowing the end user to resubmit the request and disable content transformation for the duration of the current session."

"...2. Content transformation proxies, must provide a means for end users of that proxy to disable all content transformation until they take explicit action to re-enable it."
Received on Thursday, 28 August 2008 03:34:04 UTC

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