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Re: FYI: Securing the Future of the Social Web with Open Standards

From: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2013 14:30:18 +0200
Message-ID: <CAKaEYh+EkV1T7-KJBVq66hKO8ALWR4L5npx2bpjnhJ4KYaZbUw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@w3.org>
Cc: "public-fedsocweb@w3.org" <public-fedsocweb@w3.org>, public-rww <public-rww@w3.org>
On 19 July 2013 13:33, Harry Halpin <hhalpin@w3.org> wrote:

>  That's my summary of where we're at and how we got here from the
> perspective of the W3C. Again, lots of work to be done but I feel we're
> getting closer :)

Thanks for the clarification.  Some comments:

- It seems that test suites are what we have been missing all along, so it
seems that these can add value.

- Interoperability with other areas of the W3C will be great too

- It's good to see JSON LD presented there.  I think this is becoming a
first class notation for the social web, especially with activity streams
moving in that direction.  It's important that people understand what this
technology brings to the table in terms of interop.

- Welcome the clarification on IPR though I think this is happening
organically too.

- I'd caution against going too far down the security rabbit hole, because
views on this topic are so diverse, it's hard to achieve consensus in a
timely manner.

- There seem to be some notable absentees from this workhop.  In
particularly facebook attended the SWXG telecons but appear not to be part
of this workshop.  This is a business oriented workshop, Facebook and Open
Graph are the leaders in this area yet I did not seem to see any mention of

Look forward to hearing the results!

> On 07/19/2013 12:28 PM, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
> http://www.w3.org/2013/socialweb/papers/w3c.html
> Harry Halpin, W3C/MIT and IRI
>  W3C's engagement with the Social Web
> The W3C has engaged the open social web since 2009, when it first hosted
> the "Future of Social Networking" workshop in Barcelona. While the workshop
> engaged a large number of stakeholders, it failed to garner enough industry
> interest and thus the Social Web Incubator Group was created to survey the
> open social web. The Incubator Group produced a high-level report of the
> standards landscape and a number of suggestions in their report @@, and
> included a number of suggestions for improving the W3C in order to make it
> more lightweight, suggested that led to the creation of W3C Community
> Groups. The W3C then started a number of community groups around relevant
> social standards (The Federated Social Web, OStatus, Pubsubhubbub) and
> hosted a developer-centric Federated Social Web 2011 conference in Berlin
> that brought companies such as Google together with grassroots activists
> (including activists from Egypt) and developers. While the conference
> concluded with a focus on adding secure group functionality to existing
> protocols, there was again not enough major industry interest to start a
> Working Groups. Then the W3C hosted, with the help of IBM, the Social
> Business Jam that led to the creation of the Social Business Community
> Group and this workshop. Thus, we hope that critical mass can now be
> achieved to start a Working Group in this area.
> Why Standards?
> The initial attempt to create an "open stack" for the social web happened
> outside of traditional standards bodies like the IETF and W3C. This in turn
> led to a very fragmented landscape of standards that have had mixed
> deployment with some success and some failures. However, there are a number
> of disadvantages of the approach of creating a "stack" of technologies
> outside of a standards body. In particular, there are:
>    - No unified IPR policy. While some specifications do specify their
>    IPR (OpenSocial), others had difficulty getting IPR signed over
>    (ActivityStreams), and some still have no clear IPR (Pubsubhubbub)
>    - No maintenance policy: Some specifications are in need of updating
>    but exist purely as informal specifications (PortableContacts) and fail to
>    be updated to take into account new developments (Salmon Protocol)
>    - Lack of guidance for developers: Developers need to make sense of a
>    bewildering number of specifications in order to build an open social
>    application. While the OStatus meta-architecture provided some guidance, it
>    needs to be maintained in lieu of current work.
>    - Lack of a test-suite. It is difficult to demonstrate
>    interoperability between code-bases without a single test-suite that can be
>    easily deployed via github. Thus, demonstrations of interoperability have
>    been "one-off" and have not been maintained.
>    - Lack of integration into the Web: HTML5 is providing a host of new
>    capabilities to HTML that will reliably work cross-platform across an
>    increasingly heterogeneous number of platforms, including mobile. Browser
>    plug-ins will be increasingly phased out of existence from all major
>    browsers. Any social work needs to take advantage of this.
>    - Lack of security considerations: A distributed social networking
>    architecture by nature needs strong authentication of parties and integrity
>    and even confidentiality of messages.
> In combination with the OpenSocial Foundation, the W3C can help address
> each of the above concerns by 1) providing a single unified royalty-free
> IPR policy 2) a Working Group with clear responsibilities for editor(s) and
> chair with management structure 3) providing a primer and integration of
> examples into the Open Web Docs with the rest of HTML5 4) Adding client
> testing into the git maintained HTML test-suite and a clear server-side
> test-suite 5) re-factoring current specifications around HTML5 (in
> particular, Web Components and CORS) 6) Providing a broad test-suite and
> integration of the social web with security-oriented work such Content
> Security Policy, the Web Cryptography API, and wide security reviews with
> related work at the IETF. Future work should have a clear focus and work in
> a unified manner, ideally with a single group with a well-defined timeline
> and deliverables.
> A Secure Open Social Web?
> In particular, security considerations have received less attention that
> needed on the social web, with the paradigm of an unauthenticated public
> broadcast of messages failing to provide the elementary security
> considerations needed for closed groups and valuable information, which are
> requirements for many use-cases ranging from sensitive corporate
> information to human rights activism. Any open social web that fails to
> take on security considerations will be abused by spammers at the very
> least.
> Any new effort for the social web should clarify the threat model and
> propose mitigations so that the open social web can handle high-value
> information. For example, any attempt to broadcast messages needs to have
> the sender authenticated, and so by nature all messages should be digitally
> signed with integrity checks, lest a malicious party strip the signature
> and replace it with its own when substituting a false message. For
> sensitive information, the message should itself be encrypted and
> de-crypted only to those in the group. To allow messages in distributed
> systems to be re-integrated and ordered correctly (as originally tried with
> Salmon Protocol), time-stamping is necessary. Lastly, it may be incorrect
> that a distributed social system that isn't properly designed is actually
> more secure than a centralized silo: considerations should be made that the
> ability to post presence updates does not store more information than is
> necessary in a centralized location (as is currently done by XMPP servers
> for example) and for use-cases where high latency is allowed, constant rate
> background traffic and mixing can prevent traffic analysis threats.
> Next Steps
> The result of this workshop will determine the future of the open social
> web. Concretely, this will consist of a report released within one month
> and then possibly, if consensus is reached and there is enough industry
> interest, one or more charters for Working Groups. The W3C welcomes joining
> forces with the OpenSocial Foundation and numerous grassroots efforts both
> inside (Pubsubhubub, OStatus) and outside the W3C (ActivityStreams,
> IndieWeb) in making social should be a "first class" citizen on the Web.
Received on Friday, 19 July 2013 12:30:49 UTC

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