W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-credentials@w3.org > September 2022

Re: Apple and Google's Mobile Document Request API

From: Niels Klomp <nklomp@sphereon.com>
Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2022 16:26:12 +0000
To: Mike Prorock <mprorock@mesur.io>
CC: Daniel Buchner <dbuchner@squareup.com>, Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>, W3C Credentials CG <public-credentials@w3.org>
Message-ID: <3afc1edd-76cf-4438-a62a-7abc04111fb8@email.android.com>
@sphereon, we have also been looking with a few select parties, which I don't want to name at this point, to provide a fully open-source Mdoc implementation.

One of the reasons is also to look at having a common open mechanism for issuance/provision and verification. The other is the enormous closed ecosystem around the respective ISO specs.

We believe by opening up that ecosystem it will benefit both the current Mdoc/Mdl world, as well as the SSI world. As we believe both Mdocs and VCs will live next to one another in the foreseeable future it will make sense to have issuers/holders/verifiers being able to cope with both worlds.

It is highly discouraging to hear these types of approaches.  I have also heard that the OpenID approach is getting some pushback in favor of other proprietary approaches,  which isn't helping anyone except for the parties involved.

Kind regards,

Niels Klomp

Op 3 sep. 2022 17:33 schreef Mike Prorock <mprorock@mesur.io>:
+1 Daniel - definitely thoughts worth considering

Mike Prorock

On Sat, Sep 3, 2022, 11:11 Daniel Buchner <dbuchner@squareup.com<mailto:dbuchner@squareup.com>> wrote:
Something to consider: this may be a fantastic reason to rapidly expand our community's collective wallet capabilities/direction beyond the use of DIDs for the niche of credentials and into the wider decentralized app space. The fun part about this is that some of these vendors are _extremely_ unlikely to chase you into this arena because it challenges business models.

Here's one possible strategy: if we ensure our wallets converge around permissioning mechanisms for robust personal datastore and ship instances of personal datastores within them, DWAs (Decentralized Web Apps) can expand the utility, reach, and stickiness of our wallets far beyond the credential-only parlor tricks their one-trick-pony API is capable of. If users adopt wallets to access DWAs, which they can do without even caring/knowing about credentials, it could create a beachhead install base. If individuals are using a wallet for engaging daily driver DWAs (real apps, not blockchain nonsense) getting them to subsequently use the credential aspects of our community's wallets becomes a lot easier.

This is just one possible strategy to combat the vendor behavior Manu laid out (which I've sadly had to deal with first-hand), so I look forward to hearing your thoughts and any other ideas you have.

- Daniel

On Sat, Sep 3, 2022, 9:37 AM Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com<mailto:msporny@digitalbazaar.com>> wrote:

TL;DR: Apple and Google are incubating a Mobile Document Request API
at W3C that creates a proprietary link between Apple Wallet and Google
Wallet and the web browser for the delivery of ISO mDLs.

As many of you know, Apple and Google have been working with the
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and
various state Department of Motor Vehicle  (DMV) organizations to
deliver ISO 18013-5 Mobile Driver's Licenses (mDLs) into their
proprietary wallet ecosystems and then deliver those mDLs to
organizations like the U.S. Transporation Security Administration
(TSA), state law enforcement, and other potential retail/payments use

The W3C Web Incubation Community Group is a community group at W3C
that incubates browser technologies, which is largely utilized by
browser vendors to signal intent and gather feedback on future
features in the browser. Sometimes items are incubated for a few weeks
before being moved into a W3C Working Group, but oftentimes they are
incubated for months to years.

Apple, with support from Google, just announced the Mobile Document Request API:


The API is basically a way for a website to request a Mobile Driver's
License (and potentially future formats based on that format) and for
the browser/operating system vendor to deliver that mDL to the

The API is concerning because it lists "Define the native
communication between the User Agent and the application holding the
mdoc." as out of scope. That is, digital wallet selection is out of
scope. Also out of scope is "issuing" and "provisioning". The
specification focuses on delivery from a digital wallet to a website.

For those of you that are new to these sorts of shenanigans at W3C,
this is a fairly standard strategy w/ the platform vendors and it was
only a matter of time before they took the approach with mDL (and mdoc
in general). The strategy is basically this:

1. The big tech platform vendors "incubate" a specification in WICG
that benefits from OS platform features that are not available to 3rd
parties (hardware-backed crypto keys, NFC, Secure Enclave, etc.).

2. After a few weeks to months of "incubating", a demonstration of the
specification working in Chrome and Safari is released (sometimes they
skip this step before asking for a W3C WG).

3. The vendors then "out of scope" how the OS gets the information in
the first place (issuance), and how the browser gets the information
(credential request) -- it's couched as "too difficult to get
agreement on the details" and it ends up being done in a proprietary
way per-platform.

4. The vendors then request a charter extension in a pre-existing
group with a huge number of deliverables (so the request gets lost in
the noise of a huge re-charter), like WebAppsWG... sometimes they
request a new group, like Web Payments (when it seems like there is a
lot of community interest in a community specification and an open
ecosystem -- which is then replaced by the more closed solution as
"the only thing the browser vendors will agree to implement").

5. One vendor suggests an application selection dialog (e.g., digital
wallet selection) and implements it -- usually Google. The other
vendor says they might support it in time, but then doesn't implement
it for years -- usually Apple. In this particular case, it looks like
all the vendors are just skipping right past trying to provide an
application/wallet selection dialog and going straight to a
proprietary ecosystem.

6. The only thing that gets to REC is the basic browser API and the
proprietary information exchange between the OS subsystem (e.g.,
Google Wallet, Apple Wallet). The "wallet selection" feature isn't
implemented for years by almost every vendor, and then is silently
dropped due to "disinterest to implement" by the remaining vendor.
This outcome is the best one can hope for if you want to keep
competitors out -- "We tried! We just couldn't get to consensus... oh

In short, this looks like an OS/browser vendor play for their
proprietary wallet ecosystems.

All of this should be heavily frowned upon by regulators, but they
don't seem to be aware of this particular trick from the large tech
company playbook. It's (arguably) anti-competitive behaviour under the
guise of a good faith effort to create a competitive ecosystem. It's
pretty brilliant if you think about it, you have one tech company
going "let's be open" and the other one going "sure, but after we get
version 1 shipped", and then once version 1 ships, they go "nah, just
kidding, wallet selection is a security risk" and the other vendor is
like: "well, we tried, but we can't make VendorX open up, so let's
just ditch the wallet selection feature 'cause, as they say, it's a
security risk."

Some of us have lived through exactly this process during the W3C Web
Payments work. It was a really nasty experience because the above is
exactly what three of the browser/OS vendors did in W3C Web Payments
between 2010-2015. This is also why CHAPI exists; to provide real
application/wallet choice in a protocol and data format agnostic way.
It's not that the browser vendors are unaware that they could open up
the ecosystem to competition, they just have a very strong market
incentive to never do that unless some regulator steps in (like has
happened in the EU -- but not around digital wallet choice).

For those of you that have been fighting to get OIDC supported for
mDLs; you should be concerned. The number of reasons to support OIDC
goes down sharply once the Mobile Document Request API goes into
Chrome and Safari.

We all should and will try to engage with Apple and Google on this. We
should try to convince them to do the right thing and enable market
competition via digital wallet selection. We should also remember that
if the past 20 years of history is any indicator -- the OS/browser
platform vendors are really good at keeping those channels closed. :)

-- 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, 3 September 2022 16:26:40 UTC

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