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Market Competition Considerations (was: Re: Centralization dangers of applying OpenID Connect to wallets protocols)

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Sat, 19 Mar 2022 12:20:41 -0400
To: public-credentials@w3.org
Message-ID: <8e46e12a-eefd-050d-f0c1-0b64f28f9a95@digitalbazaar.com>
On 3/18/22 1:43 PM, Brian Richter wrote:
> here is my first impressions of the answers to those questions with no 
> advocacy implied as I am just learning what this looks like myself.

Brian, thank you for engaging in the discussion. Dmitri has already done an
excellent job of pointing out where some of your thinking might not align with
the reality of the specifications. Some higher-level responses to your
questions below.

> Is this going to be used by RPs to only allow pre-registered wallets to
> authenticate? I don't think so

I say this with respect -- on this particular point, you are being naive. :)

I can tell you that "only allowing approved wallets via OpenID" is currently
being proposed by some vendors in the SSI ecosystem to their customers.

I do think it's being done in good faith -- "You don't want to just allow
/any/ wallet to hold a credential, do you!?" -- the answer to that question
should be "In general, yes, that's exactly what you want -- given the wallet
has the features you need to ensure the safety of your credential -- such as
being able to prove that it's using a Hardware Security Module and appropriate
authentication to do key management."

To put this in perspective... remember how horrible browser vendor detection
was in the late 90s and early 00s, and how it contributed to one of the
biggest anti-trust cases[1] in history against Microsoft? ... not to mention
countless broken websites?

We all learned from that... do browser /feature/ detection, don't do browser
/vendor/ detection.

The lesson here is: Do /wallet feature/ detection, don't do /wallet vendor/

> I believe on a long enough time scale this is largely solved by SIOP as it 
> becomes the only OIDC provider worth a damn.

No, don't delay solving the problem, solve the problem NOW. I've heard that
"just wait, OpenID will eventually solve the NASCAR problem" so many times...
and the technology continues to fail to deliver on that promise. The current
iteration is no different.

CHAPI addresses the NASCAR problem *today* AND you can bootstrap into other
protocols such as OIDC, DIDCommv2, VC-API, and VPR from it.

> 3. Eliminate the concept of "App Store"-like in-wallet "Marketplaces". If 
> you do this, you put issuers at a natural disadvantage -- pay to play to 
> get listed in a wallet's "Marketplace".
> I don't think I understand this grievance :) It's still up to the RP to
> choose what credentials they will trust.

That's not the problem... the problem is from the opposite side. To state it
another way:

If you convince wallets vendors that the solution to the NASCAR problem is to
just list every credential that is of interest to a holder /in the wallet UI/,
then you put issuers at a disadvantage. How do people discover the issuer? If
it's only through the wallet interface, then all of a sudden all of the
issuers need to lobby wallet providers to get their credentials issued. If you
give the wallet vendors that sort of power, market consolidation will result
in issuers doing pay-to-play (like the music/streaming industry)... you get
issuers paying wallet providers to include them in their searches and for
search placement. Sounds like a pretty great business model -- I wonder if
there's ever been a company to capitalize on that in an anti-competitive
fashion. :P

All this to say, we've provided strong guidance around security and privacy in
both the Verifiable Credentials specification and the Decentralized
Identifiers specification.

We should think about providing some level of Market Competition Guidance
since some of us seem to be marching into anti-competitive outcomes without
much of a debate. Again, almost everyone is being well intentioned... but you
know what they say about the road to hell. :P

-- manu


Manu Sporny - https://www.linkedin.com/in/manusporny/
Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
News: Digital Bazaar Announces New Case Studies (2021)
Received on Saturday, 19 March 2022 16:20:59 UTC

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