W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-geolocation@w3.org > April 2009

Re: Intended usage notification

From: Nick Doty <npdoty@ischool.berkeley.edu>
Date: Wed, 8 Apr 2009 01:22:56 -0400
Cc: Martin Thomson <Martin.Thomson@andrew.com>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, Greg Bolsinga <bolsinga@apple.com>, Doug Turner <doug.turner@gmail.com>, public-geolocation@w3.org, Alissa Cooper <acooper@cdt.org>
Message-Id: <DE0D66C5-6CC2-49CB-80AA-8952F012ACCE@ischool.berkeley.edu>
To: Andrei Popescu <andreip@google.com>
Hello all,

I'd like to add my voice as one that would hope for some intended  
usage notification in the API.  As a web developer, I definitely want  
some standard way to let my users know what I'm going to be doing with  
their location information and to have that promise in front of them  
at the time they're making that decision.  A dialog that pops up  
without any context on what my site will do with a user's location  
information will make my users uncomfortable.  Given the potentially  
widely varying ways that the User Agents may implement asking the user  
for permission, there may be no way for me to consistently get my  
intended usage information to the user so that they can make an  
appropriate decision.

To return to "good guys" and "bad guys", I think that really distracts  
us from the point.  I'm a "good guy" and I'm not going to sell my  
users' location information to the mafia or anything like that. But  
it's still certainly relevant to my users' decision to give me their  
location information how long I'm planning on storing the data, who  
I'm sending it to or what I'm using it for.  And if I can let them  
know at the very moment I'm asking for this sensitive data, then I'm a  
lot less likely to get complaints from them after the fact or to get  
in legal/PR/regulatory trouble later on.

As I currently understand it, the API suggests that the User Agent  
provide the user just with the URI of the document requesting access.   
Does the working group believe that the URI is the only relevant piece  
of information for the user in deciding whether to reveal their  
location?  If the web really is made up of good guys and bad guys,  
then the URI might be sufficient information, but again, I don't think  
that's the situation here.  The URI is certainly relevant, but not the  
only thing that's relevant.

I'd love to hear more about the experience from Gears -- did you see  
evidence that malicious sites were able to trick users with the  
notification text?  I would think (though this is certainly out of my  
realm of experience) that the User Agent could somehow distinguish  
between what the User Agent is telling me and what the site is telling  
me, though it seems others on this list disagree.  Has Google chosen  
to remove this notification from subsequent versions of Gears?


On Mar 26, 2009, at 6:35 PM, Andrei Popescu wrote:

> Hi,
> For what it's worth, we implemented this in Gears. The reasoning was
> similar to what you described. Our experience with this is that it
> does provide a modest benefit for good sites that can add more context
> to the permission dialog. The downside is that this feature allows bad
> sites to add text that may detract the user's attention from the
> actual URL of the site that's asking for permission. Bad sites can add
> their own URL go the snippet (in ways that are hard to detect) making
> matters even more confusing to the users. So, in retrospect, I am not
> sure this really improved anything. In any case, as an API
> implementer, I would certainly not like to be forced to implement
> something like this, hence I don't think this should be in the spec.
> Andrei
> On Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:17 PM, Thomson, Martin
> <Martin.Thomson@andrew.com> wrote:
>> Trust is not a binary operation on all aspects.
>> The thought process goes thus:
>> - I trust this site not to lie.
>> - This site just asked me if I wanted to be advertised at based on  
>> my location: reject.
>> - This site just asked me if I wanted to display a map of my  
>> vicinity: allow.
>> What the current arrangement does is forces users to have a  
>> reasonably good conceptual model of what is going on in the web  
>> page in order to make an informed decision when the prompt is  
>> offered.  I don't believe that an average user is capable of  
>> building a useful model.
>> The current model leads to users to think: ``the last time I  
>> clicked "reject" the site didn't work.''  This has the effect of  
>> training users to blindly click accept.
>> I'm merely suggesting a low-cost improvement to this training  
>> problem.
>> Cheers,
>> Martin
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Ian Hickson [mailto:ian@hixie.ch]
>>> Sent: Thursday, 26 March 2009 3:06 PM
>>> To: Thomson, Martin
>>> Cc: Greg Bolsinga; Doug Turner; public-geolocation@w3.org
>>> Subject: RE: Intended usage notification
>>> On Thu, 26 Mar 2009, Thomson, Martin wrote:
>>>> This is not intended to be binding, so liars will be free to do  
>>>> that.
>>> Then what's the point?
>>> The good sites aren't the ones that are going to be a privacy risk  
>>> for
>>> users. The ones that are the problem are the malicious sites that  
>>> are
>>> going to, I dunno, sell the location of rich people using their  
>>> site to
>>> organised thieves. And those are the very sites who will lie.
>>> In other words, there are two kinds of sites, and two kinds of  
>>> prompts:
>>>                     Prompts that are honest    Prompts that are lies
>>>    Sites that are   The prompt doesn't         Won't happen, since
>>>   trustworthy and   matter, since the user     the sites are honest
>>> won't do anything   won't be screwed           (by definition)
>>> bad with the data   either way
>>>   Sites that want   Won't happen, since        The prompt doesn't
>>>     to abuse your   the sites are dishonest    matter, since it is
>>>     location data   (by definition)            a lie
>>>> This establishes a common expectation from users.
>>> That's the problem. It leads users to believe a prompt that can  
>>> just as
>>> easily be a lie.
>>> It would be the equivalent of teaching users to give their credit  
>>> cards
>>> to
>>> random strangers based purely on the excuse the strangers give,  
>>> instead
>>> of training users to look for other clues, such as the reputation of
>>> the
>>> site, to make their decision.
>>> --
>>> Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.
>>> fL
>>> http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _ 
>>> \  ;`._
>>> ,.
>>> Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-
>>> .;.'
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Received on Wednesday, 8 April 2009 07:37:33 UTC

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