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Re: privacy definitions -- was: WebID questions

From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2012 21:22:34 +0200
Cc: "Jonas Hogberg K.O" <jonas.k.o.hogberg@ericsson.com>, Carvalho Melvin <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>, "public-philoweb@w3.org" <public-philoweb@w3.org>, "public-webid@w3.org" <public-webid@w3.org>, Oshani Seneviratne <oshani@mit.edu>
Message-Id: <FBC002F5-7FFD-4105-8DF0-889E711683AA@bblfish.net>
To: Ben Laurie <benl@google.com>

On 30 Sep 2012, at 20:46, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:

> On 30 September 2012 10:30, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>> 
>> On 29 Sep 2012, at 19:50, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>> 
>>> On 28 September 2012 15:26, Jonas Hogberg K.O
>>> <jonas.k.o.hogberg@ericsson.com> wrote:
>>>> At
>>>> http://blogs.kuppingercole.com/kearns/2012/09/25/in-search-of-privacy/?goback=.gde_3480266_member_168314336,
>>>> Dave Kearns writes:
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> There is indeed a lot of confusion about the subject, but there are two key
>>>> phrases to remember when talking about privacy:
>>>> 
>>>> Privacy is not anonymity
>>>> Privacy is not secrecy
>>> 
>>> Quoting those out of context is not particularly helpful. But for more
>>> on why anonymity is important for privacy...
>>> 
>>> http://www.links.org/?p=123
>>> http://www.links.org/?p=124
>> 
>> Looking at those two, can we agree that we agree that anonymity should be the default?
>> I believe as you do that when I go to a web site the default should be that I not be
>> identified, and not be tracked. I can choose later to be tracked or identified for
>> that site for a given amount of time or until I change my mind, but the default should
>> be anonymity.
>> 
>> ( Within limits of logic of course. If I tell anonymous Y something P
>> which has consequence Q, and some other anonymous Z does something with Q that would have
>> been nearly impossible to know had they not known P, then I could conclude within
>> a certain probability that  Y == Z )
>> 
>> The web provides this. Some browsers provide it better than others, but really
>> this is up to them. It is not perfect: ip addresses can be tracked and dns lookups
>> can be tracked. But the web is not reliant on those. It could be deployed just as well
>> on top of Tor. Had people had better memories, we could have had .onion urls plastered
>> on bus stops since the beginning.
>> 
>> Anonymity is important for many reasons. Among which is that it helps create a trusted
>> public sphere. It increases my trust in the information I read if I know that the publisher
>> publishes that information that can be read by anonymous readers. Knowing that the publisher
>> cannot tell who is reading what he is publishing is a very strong guarantee that he
>> is not adapting his message to different groups. Oddly enough anonymity has an important role
>> therefore in public discussion.
>> 
>> So do we agree here? I think we do.
> 
> So far.

ok. So let's see if we can agree further, from here :-)

There are a number of identification options available.
Let me list some of them:

  - anonymous ( 0 identification )
  - cookies   ( site bound )
  - TLS-Origin-Bound-Certificates ( unforgeable cookies )
  - Self-Signed certificates with an .onion WebID 
        ( I promised Appelbaum to work on that. This gives you an identity, but nobody knows
          where you or your server are located )
  - Self-Signed certificates with a http(s) WebID
  - CA Signed Certificates
  - DNSSEC Signed Certificates
  - ...?

We agree that anonymous should be the default. 
I think we can agree as a matter of simple fact that none of the browsers show
you which of those modes you are in when looking at a web page. You cannot
as a user therefore tell if you are anonymous or not. You cannot therefore tell
if the page you are looking at has been tweaked for you or if it would appear 
differently to someone else in the same mode as you. You cannot tell if the
agent on the other side can tie you to a browsing history or not.

Well let me put this in a more nuanced way: you can tell the above from the
side-effects - say if they should you your profile on a google+ page with edit mode
allowed - but that is up to the server to show you that. We both want it to be
up to the user. We don't want it to be up to the user in some complicated conf file
hidden away somewhere. We both want it to be in your face, transparent. I should
in an eyeblink be able to tell if I am anonymous or not, and I should be able 
to switch from one mode to the next if and when I want to in a simple easy gesture.

Just as in real life when we put on a mask we know that we are wearing the mask,
so on the web we want to know what mask we are wearing at all times.

These are the improvements I have been fighting ( not alone ) to get browsers to
implement. Are we fighting on the same side here?

Henry

> 
>> 
>>> 
>>> Also the many blog posts which link to those.
>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> ________________________________
>>>> 
>>>> From: Henry Story [mailto:henry.story@bblfish.net]
>>>> Sent: 28 September 2012 13:49
>>>> To: Henry Story
>>>> Cc: Carvalho Melvin; public-philoweb@w3.org; Ben Laurie;
>>>> public-webid@w3.org; Oshani Seneviratne
>>>> Subject: Re: privacy definitions -- was: WebID questions
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> On 28 Sep 2012, at 13:46, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> On 28 Sep 2012, at 12:50, Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> On 27 September 2012 21:09, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> I think we have a problem with divergent understandings of what privacy
>>>> amounts to,
>>>> and we should clarify this divergence. More below.
>>>> 
>>>> On 27 Sep 2012, at 14:45, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>> On 27 September 2012 13:11, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> On 27 Sep 2012, at 13:10, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> On 27 September 2012 12:01, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>>>>>> I forgot to reply to this comment:
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> On 27 Sep 2012, at 12:13, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>> The W3C does not seem to agree -
>>>>>>>>> http://www.w3.org/2011/tracking-protection/drafts/tracking-dnt.html
>>>>>>>>> claims
>>>>>>>>> that some people do not want to be correlated across sites.
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> Yes. We are not saying they MUST be  correlated across sites, and we
>>>>>>>> are not
>>>>>>>> removing the freedom of people who wish not to be correlated.
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> When I go to a web site I don't have to click the login button. f I
>>>>>>>> click
>>>>>>>> the login button and it asks me for a certificate I don't have to
>>>>>>>> choose one
>>>>>>>> with a WebID - or choose one at all for that matter.
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> The browser UI people could add a field in the certificate login
>>>>>>>> selection
>>>>>>>> box for an origin-bound-certificate perhaps. I am not sure how they
>>>>>>>> should
>>>>>>>> present this, nor what the advantages or disadvanteges of doing that
>>>>>>>> would
>>>>>>>> be,  and it is outside the scope of the discussion here.
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> But if I want to login with an identity I have on the web, and I want
>>>>>>>> this
>>>>>>>> to be correlated, then I don't see why that freedom should not be
>>>>>>>> available
>>>>>>>> to me.
>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>> I am just saying that practically most people will not want to have
>>>>>>>> 10000
>>>>>>>> identities. Certainly if we restrict ourselves to identities that they
>>>>>>>> want
>>>>>>>> to use for correlation, it seems unlikely that people can cope with
>>>>>>>> more
>>>>>>>> than a handful or find it useful.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> I find a standard that is not interested in helping people who want to
>>>>>>> log in _and_ have privacy to not be very interesting.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> That is stated so generally it is difficult to make much of it.  You seem
>>>>>> to want Origin-bound-certificates it seems as described here:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> http://tools.ietf.org/agenda/81/slides/tls-1.pdf
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> ( though the criticism of TLS certificates on slide 3 is wrong as I have
>>>>>> already explained in
>>>>>> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webid/2012Sep/0093.html )
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> I pointed out in my reply above that perhaps origin bound certificates
>>>>>> could be tied  into a user experience with normal browsers and normal
>>>>>> certificates. I don't see why there should  be a standard that solves both
>>>>>> problems, or why they could not work together.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Now this still leaves you with the option of thinking that the problem
>>>>>> you really care about - secure login to one site - is the one and only truly
>>>>>> honest problem that an engineer needs to solve who is concerned about
>>>>>> privacy. Let me spend a little time disabusing you of that understandably
>>>>>> simple and appealing idea.  Consider:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 1. What kind of privacy do you get if you log into one site (say with
>>>>>> Origin-bound certificates ) and it offers everything to you: your social
>>>>>> networks, your films, your news, your search, etc... Is that really privacy?
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 2. What incentive do you have when you go to a different site, and you
>>>>>> log in there completely fresh? Let us imagine that that is the only thing
>>>>>> you CAN do when you login to a new site: perhaps linked data and WebID have
>>>>>> been made illegal in this world. So you arrive at this new site, and the
>>>>>> number of people you can interact with is inevitably less than on mega-co's
>>>>>> servers. You may find that cool. But where do you think the rest of humanity
>>>>>> is going to end up on? And what does that do to your privacy when they tweet
>>>>>> more and more where they saw you, what you told them, and in any case all
>>>>>> the communication you send them has to go through megaco's servers.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> So consider why and how you came to think that "login and privacy" were
>>>>>> the only thing to merit your attention. Also consider why you think that
>>>>>> login and identity don't equal privacy. Say you have a freedom box and I
>>>>>> have mine, and I go to your server and authenticate and post a picture. The
>>>>>> only two people who can see the picture are you and me. Where is there a
>>>>>> privacy gap there?
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> I believe you are serious in your desire for privacy. And I respect that.
>>>>>> But I think by not taking into account the network effect, by not noticing
>>>>>> the many folded nature of reality, you end up working against your own
>>>>>> values, and discarding solutions that could help you achieve your aims. So I
>>>>>> do urge you to consider WebID as another tool to help create a more just and
>>>>>> less asymetric space for us to live in, where we can all enjoy greater
>>>>>> privacy and security.
>>>>> 
>>>>> I've talked about many issues with WebID, why do you think privacy is
>>>>> my sole concern?
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> You said "I find a standard that is not interested in helping people who
>>>> want to log in _and_ have privacy to not be very interesting." But why would
>>>> you think that WebID does not enable privacy?
>>>> 
>>>> I then put that together with your earlier statement "that some people do
>>>> not want to be correlated across sites."
>>>> Referring to a document on DO-NOT-TRACK by the W3C. It seems that you think
>>>> that being correlated across sites (in any way) is a privacy problem.
>>>> 
>>>> If I put these together then it seems to me that you are thinking that a
>>>> fundamental requirement for privacy is that one not be identified across
>>>> sites in any way. You seem to exclude the possibility that I wilfully be
>>>> identifying myself across a site, as one that cannot be privacy enhancing.
>>>> Or else why would you think that WebID cannot be an option for people who
>>>> are keen on privacy?
>>>> 
>>>> My understanding of privacy starts from a different intuition. A
>>>> communication between two people is private if the only people who have
>>>> access to the communication are the two people in question. One can easily
>>>> generalise to groups: a conversation between groups of people is private (to
>>>> the group) if the only people who can participate/read the information are
>>>> members of that group....
>>>> 
>>>> So now imagine that you and I and each member of this mailing list have
>>>> their own freedom box [1] . A freedom box is a one person server that serves
>>>> only the person in question. I am purposefully taking an extreme example to
>>>> make the point. Now lets imagine you put a picture of our future meeting at
>>>> TPAC in late October - I hope you will be able to come - onto your freedom
>>>> box, and tag the people who appear in that picture taken later at night in a
>>>> bar. You may not want to make it public until and unless all the members who
>>>> have appeared in the picture accept that picture to be public. So to keep it
>>>> close to our current technology, let us say you send them an e-mail with the
>>>> link to the page containing the pictures. You don't want all the people on
>>>> the web who see that URL as it passes unencrypted through the etherspace to
>>>> be able to also click on the URL and see the picture. So you add an access
>>>> control rule to your page that only allows the people who were designed in
>>>> the picture - by WebID - to access to those resources. On receiving the mail
>>>> the tagged people can click on the picture's URL, authenticate with WebID,
>>>> and see the picture. Anybody else who tried would not be able to see it: 403
>>>> Access Forbidden. Now I would say that those pictures are protected for
>>>> privacy - they are not public, and only visible to the designated group -
>>>> and you have used WebID in the process of making sure they were kept
>>>> private. There was no third person in the loop that also saw the pictures.
>>>> Only those people you wanted to could see them.
>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> My point was this: if your response to a desire for privacy _amongst
>>>>> many other things_ is "then don't use WebID" that seems like a
>>>>> deficiency in WebID to me, and one that makes it a lot less
>>>>> interesting to me.
>>>> 
>>>> I was only saying: if you want to log into a site without using a WebID
>>>> based certificate, then don't use a WebID based certificate. But don't think
>>>> that by doing that you are guaranteeing your privacy. As I explained if
>>>> there is only one big web site to rule them all and you log into it without
>>>> webid, whatever you post there will be seen not only by the people you
>>>> wanted to have it visible to, but also by the owners of the site. In our
>>>> Freedbom Box scenario that is not the case. So this is a case of showing how
>>>> having a global identity that the user can control enhances privacy.
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> FYI: Eben Moglen defines privacy as follows:
>>>> 
>>>> Which brings us I will admit to back to this question of anonymity, or
>>>> rather, personal autonomy. One of the really problematic elements in
>>>> teaching young people, at least the young people I teach, about privacy, is
>>>> that we use the word privacy to mean several quite distinct things. Privacy
>>>> means secrecy, sometimes. That is to say, the content of a message is
>>>> obscured to all but it's maker and intended recipient. Privacy means
>>>> anonymity, sometimes, that means messages are not obscured, but the points
>>>> generating and receiving those messages are obscured. And there is a third
>>>> aspect of privacy which in my classroom I call autonomy. It is the
>>>> opportunity to live a life in which the decisions that you make are
>>>> unaffected by others' access to secret or anonymous communication.
>>>> 
>>>> http://www.softwarefreedom.org/events/2012/freedom-to-connect_moglen-keynote-2012.html
>>>> 
>>>> Would this be an acceptable working definition for this thread?
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Eben Moglen makes a good case against (unnecessary) centralisation of
>>>> 
>>>> information in services  that you are not in control of. Note, that
>>>> sometimes
>>>> 
>>>> I do want  information not to be on my server: say if I get a degree from
>>>> 
>>>> a university,  it has more value if the university states that I have the
>>>> degree,
>>>> 
>>>> than if I state it. Every person or organisation is a node in the publishing
>>>> system.
>>>> 
>>>> What is problematic is the loss of autonomy that could arise by giving away
>>>> 
>>>> all one's information too easily. It won't happen simply because there are
>>>> 
>>>> many organisations that are legally obliged to control those processes:
>>>> 
>>>> e.g. health care organisations, companies (about their employees), armies,
>>>> 
>>>> police departments, universities, etc...
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Eben Moglen brings up the topic of autonomy but does not develop
>>>> 
>>>> it far enough. This is a very interesting topic that would be worth
>>>> discussing
>>>> 
>>>> on the Philosophy of the Web Community Group
>>>> 
>>>>  http://www.w3.org/community/philoweb/
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> For the purposes of the argument here, I think the simple definition of
>>>> 
>>>> privacy that I gave is sufficient. For a much much more researched
>>>> 
>>>> analysis, also to be developed on philoweb, see the book by Helen
>>>> 
>>>> Nissenbaum "Privacy in Context"
>>>> 
>>>> http://www.amazon.com/Privacy-Context-Technology-Integrity-Stanford/dp/0804752370
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> If we put that together with work on speech acts starting from Austin,
>>>> Searle,
>>>> 
>>>> the debate with Derrida, ... and we put that together with HTTP considered
>>>> 
>>>> as document acts, as I argue following Dan Conolly in my Philoweb
>>>> presentation
>>>> 
>>>> around 1/3 of the way in,
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> forgot the link:
>>>> 
>>>> http://bblfish.net/tmp/2010/10/26/
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> then we can see how this ties in with work done by
>>>> 
>>>> Oshani in her "usage restriction management" paper
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> http://dig.csail.mit.edu/2011/Papers/IEEE-Policy-httpa/paper.pdf
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Essentially Nissenbaum argues that the context in which information is given
>>>> 
>>>> to someone is what determines privacy rules. We need to find some mechanism
>>>> 
>>>> to declare those contexts in our ReadWriteWeb servers, and Oshani has
>>>> 
>>>> made some first steps in that direction.
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>  But I don't think we should - nor can we - try to solve all issues here
>>>> in this thread.
>>>> 
>>>> But still it is useful to see where we are located in conceptual space here.
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Henry
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Henry
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> [1] http://freedomboxfoundation.org/
>>>> [2] http://www.w3.org/2012/10/TPAC/
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Social Web Architect
>>>> http://bblfish.net/
>>>> 
>>>> 
>> 
>> Social Web Architect
>> http://bblfish.net/
>> 

Social Web Architect
http://bblfish.net/



Received on Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:23:12 GMT

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