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Re: FedId CG at W3C and GNAP

From: Bob Wyman <bob@wyman.us>
Date: Sat, 8 Jan 2022 17:58:37 -0500
Message-ID: <CAA1s49UuJnkfwCGO1+7rggyP7BjjAZ7WB4yFM+MkvnZrHk4Scw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Adrian Gropper <agropper@healthurl.com>
Cc: Steve Magennis <steve.e.magennis@gmail.com>, Orie Steele <orie@transmute.industries>, Justin P Richer <jricher@mit.edu>, "W3C Credentials CG (Public List)" <public-credentials@w3.org>
Adrian Gropper wrote:

> "Human rights are like wht has been said of pornography: "You know it when
> you see it." Ethics are like art."

I find that distinction to be rather unhelpful. Given that, I'd like to
make an attempt to offer my own distinction:

Ethics involve a systemization of rules for how one ought to behave. On the
other hand, rights are entitlements which constrain behavior. Ethics
teaches you what you should do, while rights limit what you may do or
require that which you must do.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
<https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights/>says that

> "Rights are entitlements (not) to perform certain actions, or (not) to be
> in certain states; or entitlements that others (not) perform certain
> actions or (not) be in certain states."

This definition shows the conflict between rights and ethics. For instance:
Someone who follows a utilitarian or consequentialist ethics might measure
the goodness of some behavior only in terms of its consequences. Such an
individual might believe that an action is "good" if it results in an
increase in aggregate societal welfare. Thus, a utilitarian might support
censoring the speech of one who espouses a particularly unpopular belief
since reducing conflict in public discourse would be a good thing. On the
other hand, if one accepts there to be a right to "freedom of opinion and
expression," as in the Universal Declaration of Human Right's Article 19
then, even though censorship may be considered by some to be ethical, it
should still be seen as the violation of a right.

Most frequently, we talk about ethics when discussing the behavior of
individuals or non-governmental groups such as corporations. Rights are
most frequently discussed in the context of the actions or duties of states
or other governments. Standards groups are a bit odd since they fall
somewhere in between these two categories. Standards groups aren't
"governments," yet they perform what is essentially a legislative function
even though they don't have access to either the executive or judicial
powers that are enjoyed by states.

A standards group needs to be aware that even if they do their best to
ensure that rights are respected in the "legislation" which is the
standards they develop, it will often be possible for people to follow
standards while violating or endangering rights. For instance, if a
standards group accepts, as many others have, that Article 19's declaration
of a right to "freedom of opinion and expression" implies a "right to
anonymity," then that standards group might ensure that it doesn't require
that key-pairs used to sign statements must be issued via certificates that
are linked to individuals' verified identity. Nonetheless, as long as
key-pair certificates are supported, it must be recognized that at least
some of them will, in fact, provide a means to link signatures to
individuals whether or not that linkage is desired by those individuals. I
suggest that the standards group will have done its job if it ensures that
anonymity is possible while also warning, perhaps in a "Rights
Considerations" section, that certain means of complying with the standard
could or would endanger anonymity. Ideally, when given a choice between
adopting two means of satisfying a single requirement, the standards group
would select that means which presents the least known risks to rights.

Is any of that useful?

bob wyman

On Sat, Jan 8, 2022 at 12:11 PM Adrian Gropper <agropper@healthurl.com>

> Yes, Steve: "Perhaps it is that human rights can be a more tangible
> endeavor (better suited to standards work) whereas ethics is more of a
> philosophical pursuit?"
> Although my career as an engineer and entrepreneur is similar to most of
> my colleagues in standards work, I have now spent over a decade as a
> full-time volunteer advocate with _dozens_ of tech standards groups and
> health tech policy forums. Almost without exception, the SDOs are designed
> for regulatory capture of the policy forums. It's an investment by a funded
> entity to influence policy for profit just like a lobbyist would be, only
> with engineers. Yes, I'm oversimplifying to make a point but I will be
> happy to respond to counter-examples.
> Human rights are like wht has been said of pornography: "You know it when
> you see it." Ethics are like art. SDO discussion threads, for example,
> don't take kindly to mentions of "motive". Statements like the one I just
> made about regulatory capture are obviously motive and, if I had directed
> that to an individual, folks would let me know.
> Ethics, in my experience, are like motives in the SDO context. They may or
> may not be relevant but need not be questioned. Writing about ethics in an
> SDO is as useful as discussing religion.
> Adrian
> On Sat, Jan 8, 2022 at 11:47 AM <steve.e.magennis@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Adrian,
>> On a number of recent threads you have highlighted a bold contrast
>> between the concept of human rights and that of ethics. I have always
>> thought of human rights as something that emerges (or at least tries to
>> emerge) out of the ethics held by society so I’m having trouble
>> understanding your statements of comparison (e.g. why dealing with the
>> issue in this thread is a matter of one but not the other). Could you humor
>> me and unpack your definitions a bit. I’d really like to better understand
>> your point. Perhaps it is that human rights can be a more tangible endeavor
>> (better suited to standards work) whereas ethics is more of a philosophical
>> pursuit?
>> Thanks & apologies for the digression
>> -S
>> *From:* Adrian Gropper <agropper@healthurl.com>
>> *Sent:* Friday, January 7, 2022 12:42 PM
>> *To:* Orie Steele <orie@transmute.industries>
>> *Cc:* Justin P Richer <jricher@mit.edu>; W3C Credentials CG (Public
>> List) <public-credentials@w3.org>
>> *Subject:* Re: FedId CG at W3C and GNAP
>> Thanks, Orie for starting this important thread. I will defer the
>> technical comments entirely to Justin and others.
>> From my perspective, the failure of SIOP in the wild needs to be
>> understood and rectified whether it involves GNAP or not. I tried to
>> participate in FedId CG from this perspective but quickly realized that
>> they really were only scoped to federated cases and trying to introduce
>> self-sovereign perspective in that CG would be torture for all involved.
>> I would also hope that Sam Smith contributes to this thread. His
>> perspective on decentralization seems important.
>> The other thing I've been trying to understand in the context of
>> self-sovereign authentication is biometrics.
>>    - Facial recognition is almost free and works well enough to be
>>    entirely passive and ambient for many use-cases. Like
>>    license plate scanners for people. Not necessarily a good thing.
>>    - Iris biometrics work even better and with appropriate hardware can
>>    be almost passive. How do we control that in a DID context?
>>    - Palm biometrics (as introduced by Amazon) are less passive and
>>    somewhat expensive but could also enter widespread use.
>>    - Local biometrics like Apple FaceID is already used to authenticate
>>    into Apple Wallet. Will it be used as an ankle bracelet analog? The answer
>>    seems to be yes, because that's how Apple Watch is used to interact with
>>    the wallet.
>>    - DNA readers get cheaper all the time...
>> Notice also that dealing with these issues is a matter of human
>> rights, not ethics.
>> I think self-sovereign authentication might be a worthwhile CCG work item.
>> - Adrian
>> On Fri, Jan 7, 2022 at 3:22 PM Orie Steele <orie@transmute.industries>
>> wrote:
>> I asked them whether they considered GNAP via slack.
>> https://w3ccommunity.slack.com/archives/C02355QUL73/p1641585415001900
>> They are chartered here: https://fedidcg.github.io/
>> To look at AuthN that breaks when browser primitives are removed.
>> They are currently focused on OIDC, SAML, WS-Fed.
>> The reason I asked them was in relation to the questions we have
>> discussed regarding "What can GNAP replace".
>> Clearly GNAP can replace OAuth, but I think you both have now confirmed
>> that GNAP does not replace OIDC, or federated identity...
>> I am confirming this one more time, just in case I got that wrong.
>> Has there yet been discussion on what some kind of OIDC built on GNAP
>> instead of OAuth would look like?.
>> OS
>> --
>> Chief Technical Officer
>> www.transmute.industries
>> <https://www.transmute.industries/>
>> ᐧ
Received on Saturday, 8 January 2022 23:00:02 UTC

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