Re: More privacy icons efforts

On 27/07/2010 11:06, Thomas Roessler wrote:
> On 27 Jul 2010, at 10:58, Jens de Smit wrote:
>> On 27/07/2010 10:23, Richard Barnes wrote:
>>> If anyone is in Maastricht this week and interested in discussing,
>>> Ulrich König is here at the IETF.  I believe he presented the privicon
>>> proposal at the Applications area meeting.
> He did present it.  The proposal was received with some skepticism, to the tune of:
> "We haven't even successfully standardized a subject prefix to denote Replies"
> "We've tried to standardize conventions for email content for the last 40 years. Re: was one of the more successful ones."


It is true that e-mail knows a quite loose form of standardisation.
Still, it would not do to stifle an innovation on the mere notion that
people have in the past failed to pull off a similar effort. It's almost
like deciding against the introduction of traffic lights because people
do not always respect speed limits. There could be many reasons to
decide against pursuing this initiative but not that other initiatives
have failed in the past.

With regard to the proposal, what speaks for it is that the project
seems to have some backing from Gmail: the demo video specifically shows
a user inserting a privicon in the Gmail composer. Also, Google employee
Max Enges is on the project team, which indicates formal involvement
from Google. Early support by an e-mail client that is used by so many
people could foster adoption. Another good thing is that the technical
approach (inserting an ASCII marker and short description in the message
body) comes close to other de jure or de facto e-mail standards such as
reply formatting with a '>' and signature delimiters '-- '.

What speaks against the proposal is that I feel that it does not really
add something that could not be conveyed in a few simple words.
Additionally, for electronic security purposes these icons are of course
a red flag for anyone looking for sensitive information. Getting
"interesting" information out of a compromised e-mail server will be so
much easier if all the juicy messages are marked with privacy icons.
That alone would be a reason for me to seriously doubt if this proposal
increases or decreases the security of private communications.



Received on Tuesday, 27 July 2010 09:37:36 UTC