W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-credentials@w3.org > March 2015

Re: Leveraging DNS and email addresses

From: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:23:48 +0100
Message-ID: <CAKaEYhLAadSBTxKyJKxd8bsuhGtwv0wdB56O=DHEXb3a5Q3Euw@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Wiley, Glen" <gwiley@verisign.com>
Cc: Adrian Hope-Bailie <adrian@hopebailie.com>, W3C Credentials Community Group <public-credentials@w3.org>
On 23 March 2015 at 15:53, Wiley, Glen <gwiley@verisign.com> wrote:

>  Melvin,
>  Some of your points are correct, email addresses are pretty over loaded
> however is this really an either-or discussion?  Does offering email
> addresses as a locator prevent discussion of other mechanisms?  It isn’t
> clear to me how it stalls other work?
>  One way to avoid an endless debate is to embrace cooperative approaches
> rather than insisting on a single approach.

Totally agree.  But from experience there tends to be some want to use
email at the exclusion of everything else (tho not always saying in what
context, which is part of the confusion) and a group that wants to be open
and inclusive.  It can lead to long threads that are not particular

>  One of the ways I have proposed we leverage payment information
> associations this way is to offer a secured referral to a URI – you can
> locate the association in the DNS using an email address which then takes
> you to a resource record that offers a URI.  This can be accomplished by
> leveraging the chain of trust within the DNS and by leveraging
> cryptographic assets to make the handoff to the URI (e.g. A certificate or
> public key).

Sounds good!

>  --
> Glen Wiley
>  Principal Engineer
> Verisign, Inc.
> (571) 230-7917
>  A5E5 E373 3C75 5B3E 2E24
> 6A0F DC65 2354 9946 C63A
>   From: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>
> Date: Monday, March 23, 2015 at 10:36 AM
> To: Adrian Hope-Bailie <adrian@hopebailie.com>
> Cc: W3C Credentials Community Group <public-credentials@w3.org>
> Subject: Re: Leveraging DNS and email addresses
> Resent-From: <public-credentials@w3.org>
> Resent-Date: Monday, March 23, 2015 at 10:37 AM
> On 16 March 2015 at 09:02, Adrian Hope-Bailie <adrian@hopebailie.com>
> wrote:
>> I have been thinking lately about the challenge of keying an identity in
>> a way that:
>>    - Is easy to transfer and remember (even for humans)
>>    - Can be normalised in a standard way and used as part of a
>>    standardised discovery process by a client to discover the Identity
>>    Provider (IdP) for that identity
>>   *ASIDE: It's worth mentioning that while we strive for a fully
>> decentralised identity system this will likely be a federated set of IdPs
>> and for a client to traverse this web they need a starting point or primary
>> IdP for an identity. When I talk about the IdP for an identity I am not
>> implying there will be only 1 but that that the key/label for the identity
>> should allow a client to resolve/discover this primary IdP and then from
>> there discover further identity claims as required.*
>>  To my mind the obvious solution is to use the email address format as
>> this is already a well-known standard which user's understand.
>>  It seems to me that the only argument against an email address format
>> is that the domain part is often not under the control of the identity
>> owner. I don't see that is a good enough reason to force users to try and
>> change their thinking and use URIs as their identifiers.
>>  I don't have statistics to back this up (perhaps somebody does) but I
>> consider the relative obscurity of OpenID as a login option as evidence
>> that this is a bad idea.
>>  So how do we help the user that has an email address @gmail.com or @
>> hotmail.com or @yahoo.com but wishes to host their identity themselves
>> or at a different IdP?
>>  First, we define a mechanism or standard algorithm/protocol for
>> translating their email address into a service discovery process that may
>> start with their home domain but ultimately result in the client accessing
>> the identity somewhere else. Then we pressure the large email providers to
>> abide by this standard. I acknowledge that this may be difficult but I
>> would say it is not impossible.
>>  I imagine the user experience being something like the following:
>>    1. I log in to my account with this email provider, go to my account
>>    settings and prpvode the URL of my IdP.
>>    2. When I use my identity online the client executes the service
>>    discovery protocol as defined, contacts my email provider and is given the
>>    URL I have configured as part of this process.
>>    3. The client negotiates with my IdP of choice to get my identity
>>    information.
>> If we have designed the protocol correctly (very close to what is already
>> in place today) my email provider only knows who my IdP is but nothing more
>> about the identity I have defined their unless I choose to share it.
>>  Where a user has a primary email address with a provider who is not
>> following the standard the user has two choices:
>>    1. Change email providers
>>    2. Use an identity that is different from their primary email address.
>>  Option 2 can be easily facilitated by any IdP who wishes to play in
>> this space. In conjunction with offering an IdP service they could also
>> allow their identity key (email address) to be used as an email address by
>> the subscriber but simply forward all emails to that address on to the
>> primary email address of the subscriber.
>>  I think the Discovery protocol of OpenID Connect (
>> http://openid.net/specs/openid-connect-discovery-1_0.html) is a good
>> reference of how an email address could be used to discover the user's IdP
>> however I'd be more in favour of leveraging the DNS service discovery
>> protocol (RFC 6763 - http://www.dns-sd.org/).
>>  Is there a compelling case for using a URI as an identity key as
>> opposed to the familar form of an email address?
>  Let's not go down this path in discussion.  Email is confusing because
> it's overloaded to do different things:
>  1. A memorable identifier
>  2. A global primary key
>  3. A message delivery service
>  This stalls meaningful discussion in the standards world, and we end up
> with failed projects such as persona.
>  Just using web axioms an email address as an identifier (2) is already a
> URI by prefixing mailto: (something that most centralized and many
> 'decentralized' systems forget to do)
>  In the linked data world we prefer http uris.
>  This is an endless perma debate that gets in the way of standards.
> Let's not go there!
>>  Adrian
Received on Monday, 23 March 2015 15:24:17 UTC

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