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W3C Web Crypto API reaches FPWD - put it on your radar!

From: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 23:23:20 +0200
Message-ID: <5060CF48.8040406@w3.org>
To: public-privacy@w3.org
The WebCrypto API has a number of privacy-related functionality that 
should be reviewed by the W3C Privacy IG, although a full detailed 
review will likely require the WD to be more mature  [1].

A number of privacy concerns have already come up on the mailing list as 
regards the current draft. Off the top of my head, one can also do 
possible finger-printing of browser types in the current spec by running 
through the operations allowed by the API in a given browser/JS 
environment, but that would likely only manage to figure out what 
browser (and possibly device, if the API wires into device or 
OS-specific crypto) the user is running by indirectly by seeing what 
crypto algorithms are supported. Another more important potential 
red-flag is the ability to import/export keys. Although the API obeys 
basic constraints like same-origin policy, one can imagine keys being 
created to identify browsers in the same manner of cookies.

The real open issues are still not yet fully discussed by the WG and 
thus not in the FPWD, but will appear in later WDs. So while we'd like 
this to be on your radar, we think a thorough privacy review would be 
more useful in about 6 months. However, we wanted this to be on your 
agenda. Some of the possible features (tracked in our issue-tracker [2]:)

1) How to do key identification (i.e. some want "Globally Unique IDs") 
2) User interaction with key (and possibly certificate) selection, given 
the usual issues that it is very difficult to standardize UI/UX in 
browsers (ISSUE-9)
3) Pressure to go beyond same-origin policy for keys for some use-cases, 
such as using pre-provisioned keys and keys previously generated and 
imported from the larger non-browser context. (ISSUE-26)
4) Requiring CSP or not (ISSUE-21)

As for more possible future features that have not yet received open 
issues that will also have an impact on privacy, see the charter [3]. In 
particular secondary features:

"/Secondary API Features/ that may be in scope are: control of TLS 
session login/logout, derivation of keys from TLS sessions, a simplified 
data protection function, multiple key containers, key import/export, a 
common method for accessing and defining properties of keys, and the 
lifecycle control of credentials such enrollment, selection, and 
revocation of credentials with a focus enabling the selection of 
certificates for signing and encryption."

So I imagine simplified data protection, interactions with multiple key 
containers (including those of the API), digital signatures, and 
certificate support would all have privacy implications re 
fingerprinting, in particular any user interaction required around 

We'd love a written commentary on the public-webcrypto-comments@w3.org 
and hopefully we can do a telecon with you at one of your future 
meetings in about 6 months.


Received on Monday, 24 September 2012 21:23:51 UTC

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