W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-credentials@w3.org > August 2021

RE: Digital Press Passes and Decentralized Public Key Infrastructures

From: Adam Sobieski <adamsobieski@hotmail.com>
Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2021 23:16:01 +0000
To: Moses Ma <moses.ma@futurelabconsulting.com>, Bob Wyman <bob@wyman.us>, George Artem <georgeartem@gmail.com>
CC: "W3C Credentials CG (Public List)" <public-credentials@w3.org>
Message-ID: <CH2PR12MB4184F7F237D7E617E97179C3C5F59@CH2PR12MB4184.namprd12.prod.outlook.com>
Bob said: “From such statements about statements, we'd then be able to use a variety of methods to extrapolate the probable truthfulness of speakers, whether or not they hold press passes.”

These statements about statements, or meta-statements, are interesting [1] as are optimizations for accessing and utilizing the provenances of human-originating and machine-generated statements. Also interesting are “reactive knowledgebases” where developers can subscribe to change events regarding the results of arbitrary queries (see also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RethinkDB).

If one desires to avoid mechanical arbiters of truth, e.g., philosophically, one could view the attribution of truth values to statements as a result of interactive processes involving end-users who, during sessions, make assumptions or decisions about statements as they make sense of incoming data.

Soapboxing, while Google and Facebook are advancing the state of the art with respect to content moderation and mitigating misinformation and disinformation, we can observe a strange vacuum when it comes to related products and services in the news analytics space, e.g., for academia. News and advertising/marketing analytics, in particular proximate to large-scale legislative activities or during elections, would benefit societies. On these related topics: https://www.npr.org/2021/08/04/1024791053/facebook-boots-nyu-disinformation-researchers-off-its-platform-and-critics-cry-f .

Moses said: “The point of this little exercise is that there may never be a universal arbiter of truth, but we can slowly build a web of trust for evidence based credibility indicators. And this group of ours should focus more on building trustable envelopes than trying to insure the veracity of contents of those envelopes. That is a key distinction for our statement of purpose.”

Trustable envelopes make sense to focus on as does mitigating emerging forms of misinformation and disinformation involving synthetic media.

Best regards,

[1] https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/semantic-web/2021Aug/0004.html

From: Moses Ma<mailto:moses.ma@futurelabconsulting.com>
Sent: Sunday, August 8, 2021 6:12 PM
To: Bob Wyman<mailto:bob@wyman.us>; George Artem<mailto:georgeartem@gmail.com>
Cc: W3C Credentials CG (Public List)<mailto:public-credentials@w3.org>
Subject: Re: Digital Press Passes and Decentralized Public Key Infrastructures

About the digital press pass use case...

This is an incredibly complex issue, but an important one and a quiet Sunday afternoon, so I'll jump in and wax philosophic here.

I apologize for bloviating in advance...

In certain war zones, having a realistic looking press pass could save someone's life, so I am supportive of this functionality in general. But the flip side is that it could inadvertently get more professional journalists killed.

For example. the CIA used the cover of a UN/UNICEF hepatitis vaccine program to gain access to the bin Laden compound in Abbotabad, to do DNA tests of the children there. After the successful op, the Taliban assassinated eight polio vaccination workers in retribution, even though those people and UNICEF had nothing to do with the operation. This resulted in the suspension of U.N. polio eradication efforts in Pakistan, which subsequently led to outbreaks of polio in Pakistan and Somalia. So like, lots of people died as a result of all of this, which had credentials at the heart of the matter.

Under pressure from public health experts, Obama later promised never to use UNICEF workers as a cover, just as the CIA promised not to use journalists as cover, in a ban that was initiated in 1977. So we need to be careful, because there may be unanticipated consequences to our actions in this group, that could cost lives, especially around decentralized press credentials and vaxpasses.

By the way, I know about this because I was part of the UNICEF team that helped to contain those outbreaks. By the way, this was actually a pretty dangerous mission, as there was a kidnapping of an extended team member during our mission. And two team members died in an IED bombing along the very road we took a few months earlier. Now, I could be bullshitting, so as a way to demonstrate verifiable content, here's me in a polio hotspot in Rawalpindi:


If you examine the EXIF for this photo:

  *   <exif:Lens>iPhone 5s front camera 2.15mm f/2.4</exif:Lens>
  *   <exif:GPSLatitude>33,37.6117N</exif:GPSLatitude>
  *   <exif:GPSLongitude>73,1.3092E</exif:GPSLongitude>
  *   <exif:GPSAltitudeRef>0</exif:GPSAltitudeRef>
  *   <exif:GPSAltitude>64637/123</exif:GPSAltitude>
  *   <exif:GPSTimeStamp>2014-12-09T07:00:40Z</exif:GPSTimeStamp>
The location maps to a suburb of Rawalpindi, and it was taken in 2014. If the hardware were trusted, this could prove that I really was there and that the image was not photoshopped. (Incidentally, I contacted a senior exec/friend at Nikon, to see if they would be interested in creating a trusted hardware based journalism camera, but it wasn't of major interest there, as they were too busy fighting off Canon and Apple for survival.)

Anyway, I was the guy who brought Ed Bice to the Boston RWOT meeting to discuss starting up a Verifiable News subgroup - he started the Credibility Coalition that got funding from Google, Facebook and Craig Newmark to expand its work assessing trust in journalism, and was later supported by 50 news agencies. Anyway, Sandro cut him off from the DID pack pretty early, and I assessed the difficulty of the project to be at the "tilting at windmills" level, so I was happy to stop thinking about this problem for a while, to focus on easier problems.

The point of this little exercise is that there may never be a universal arbiter of truth, but we can slowly build a web of trust for evidence based credibility indicators. And this group of ours should focus more on building trustable envelopes than trying to insure the veracity of contents of those envelopes. That is a key distinction for our statement of purpose.


PS, about the UNICEF thing... this is tangential, but the best thing we did to address the outbreak in Pakistan was to create a comic book to train the 200,000 polio workers who had to go door to door to inoculate children. If you're interested, here's the comic book:

And here's my original script for the comic book, before editing by UNICEF experts:

Again, if this sort of thing could be made verifiable, it leads to greater veracity in web content.

On 8/8/21 12:18 PM, Bob Wyman wrote:
 George Artem wrote:
would you be proposing some sort of “proof of truth” block-chain?
There is not, never has been, and never will be either a universally accepted arbiter of truth or a process for establishing truth. To label anything as a mechanism for establishing "proof-of-truth" is misguided doomed to failure.

The best we'll ever be able to do is create methods by which claims of truth, or its absence, can be made. Even something like a "Digital Press Pass" seems to me to be faulty in the basic assumption that there is some universally useful state of being a member of the "press." The best we'll be able to do is allow various entities to make claims about the "pressness" of other entities. For instance, some might claim that Fox News is a "press" organization, others would claim that Fox New" is an advocacy group more akin to a political organization or party. There is, of course, value in both sets of statements. The key thing is to allow these statements to be made. Trying to craft mechanisms for establishing or proving truth is a waste of effort.

Adam Sobieski wrote:
I am proposing that “digital press passes” could be created and could be a component of solutions for mitigating misinformation and disinformation.
A Digital Press Pass could, at best, provide information that might influence one's evaluation of the credibility of a speaker, at some specific time, when making statements about some kind of information. But, even credible speakers (whatever that may mean) are neither always right nor wrong. Thus, it isn't qualities of the speaker that should be considered most important but rather statements about their statements. In the end, I will be much less impressed by a claim that someone is "press" than I will be if I discover that people whom I trust usually find that person's statements to be true. As a result, what I would like to see is agreement on how I, and those I trust, can issue discoverable credentials concerning the veracity or qualities of statements that we come across. From such statements about statements, we'd then be able to use a variety of methods to extrapolate the probable truthfulness of speakers, whether or not they hold press passes. This should, of course, then lead to methods for making statements about the qualities of those who present various press credentials. In any case, the credibility of one with a press pass should arise primarily from evaluation of their statements, not from their press credentials.
bob wyman

On Sun, Aug 8, 2021 at 2:45 AM George Artem <georgeartem@gmail.com<mailto:georgeartem@gmail.com>> wrote:
Respectfully, this is at best a very naive idea. Here are some very basic questions:

Exactly who would be the “revoking agency” or “revoking authority” that would verify the claimed “mis” or “dis” information? A “fact-checker” like the Ministry of Truth?

Alternatively, would you be proposing some sort of “proof of truth” block-chain? If so, what would be the parameters of your “proof of truth” validation for journalistic bias? Emerging science? Etc.

Looking forward to your thoughts.


Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 20, 2021, at 9:48 AM, steve.e.magennis@gmail.com<mailto:steve.e.magennis@gmail.com> wrote:

Two other projects in the VC space come to mind that might be worth looking into:
·         GLEIF<https://wiki.trustoverip.org/display/HOME/Ecosystem+Working+Group+Files?preview=%2F66630%2F67146%2FAccelerating-Digital-Identity-with-the+LEI_ToIP-Ecosystem-Foundry_WG_v1.0_final+.pdf> – this is an ecosystem with a globally authenticated list of orgs, think distinctly, and unequivocally known publishers (sans reputation), they are potentially extending into named individuals within those orgs, think writer(s). This could help solve the problem of easily and confidently distinguishing John Smith at Reuters from John Smith at Reuterzz.
·         Internet of Research<https://wiki.trustoverip.org/display/HOME/Internet+of+Research+Ecosystem+Task+Force>: This group is tackling the issue of scholarly publications which need to be very clear about authentic authorship, recognizable publication and citations of published works. Maybe more granular than you need in some ways, and maybe less granular than you need in others, but worth a look.

Happy to help with intros if interested in either.


Moses Ma | Managing Partner

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v+1.415.568.1068 | skype mosesma | linktr.ee/moses.tao<http://linktr.ee/moses.tao>

FutureLab provides strategy, ideation and technology for breakthrough innovation and third generation blockchains.

Learn more at www.futurelabconsulting.com<http://futurelabconsulting.com>. For calendar invites, please cc: mosesma@gmail.com<mailto:mosesma@gmail.com>

Or whet your appetite by reading Agile Innovation<http://www.amazon.com/Agile-Innovation-Revolutionary-Accelerate-Engagement/dp/B00SSRSZ9A> | Quantum Design Sprint<https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Design-Sprint-Application-Disruptive/dp/1799143864> | my blog at psychologytoday.com<http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-tao-innovation>.


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