W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webid@w3.org > October 2012

Re: privacy definitions -- was: WebID questions

From: Ben Laurie <benl@google.com>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2012 12:43:49 +0100
Message-ID: <CABrd9SRBSKkVSq234voCH8M9EqofjrbhPw_eZhiq8dDw_NG1Dw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Cc: "Jonas Hogberg K.O" <jonas.k.o.hogberg@ericsson.com>, Carvalho Melvin <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>, "public-philoweb@w3.org" <public-philoweb@w3.org>, "public-webid@w3.org" <public-webid@w3.org>, Oshani Seneviratne <oshani@mit.edu>
On 30 September 2012 20:22, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>
> On 30 Sep 2012, at 20:46, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>
>> On 30 September 2012 10:30, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>
>>> On 29 Sep 2012, at 19:50, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> On 28 September 2012 15:26, Jonas Hogberg K.O
>>>> <jonas.k.o.hogberg@ericsson.com> wrote:
>>>>> At
>>>>> http://blogs.kuppingercole.com/kearns/2012/09/25/in-search-of-privacy/?goback=.gde_3480266_member_168314336,
>>>>> Dave Kearns writes:
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> There is indeed a lot of confusion about the subject, but there are two key
>>>>> phrases to remember when talking about privacy:
>>>>>
>>>>> Privacy is not anonymity
>>>>> Privacy is not secrecy
>>>>
>>>> Quoting those out of context is not particularly helpful. But for more
>>>> on why anonymity is important for privacy...
>>>>
>>>> http://www.links.org/?p=123
>>>> http://www.links.org/?p=124
>>>
>>> Looking at those two, can we agree that we agree that anonymity should be the default?
>>> I believe as you do that when I go to a web site the default should be that I not be
>>> identified, and not be tracked. I can choose later to be tracked or identified for
>>> that site for a given amount of time or until I change my mind, but the default should
>>> be anonymity.
>>>
>>> ( Within limits of logic of course. If I tell anonymous Y something P
>>> which has consequence Q, and some other anonymous Z does something with Q that would have
>>> been nearly impossible to know had they not known P, then I could conclude within
>>> a certain probability that  Y == Z )
>>>
>>> The web provides this. Some browsers provide it better than others, but really
>>> this is up to them. It is not perfect: ip addresses can be tracked and dns lookups
>>> can be tracked. But the web is not reliant on those. It could be deployed just as well
>>> on top of Tor. Had people had better memories, we could have had .onion urls plastered
>>> on bus stops since the beginning.
>>>
>>> Anonymity is important for many reasons. Among which is that it helps create a trusted
>>> public sphere. It increases my trust in the information I read if I know that the publisher
>>> publishes that information that can be read by anonymous readers. Knowing that the publisher
>>> cannot tell who is reading what he is publishing is a very strong guarantee that he
>>> is not adapting his message to different groups. Oddly enough anonymity has an important role
>>> therefore in public discussion.
>>>
>>> So do we agree here? I think we do.
>>
>> So far.
>
> ok. So let's see if we can agree further, from here :-)
>
> There are a number of identification options available.
> Let me list some of them:
>
>   - anonymous ( 0 identification )
>   - cookies   ( site bound )
>   - TLS-Origin-Bound-Certificates ( unforgeable cookies )
>   - Self-Signed certificates with an .onion WebID
>         ( I promised Appelbaum to work on that. This gives you an identity, but nobody knows
>           where you or your server are located )
>   - Self-Signed certificates with a http(s) WebID
>   - CA Signed Certificates
>   - DNSSEC Signed Certificates
>   - ...?
>
> We agree that anonymous should be the default.
> I think we can agree as a matter of simple fact that none of the browsers show
> you which of those modes you are in when looking at a web page. You cannot
> as a user therefore tell if you are anonymous or not. You cannot therefore tell
> if the page you are looking at has been tweaked for you or if it would appear
> differently to someone else in the same mode as you. You cannot tell if the
> agent on the other side can tie you to a browsing history or not.
>
> Well let me put this in a more nuanced way: you can tell the above from the
> side-effects - say if they should you your profile on a google+ page with edit mode
> allowed - but that is up to the server to show you that. We both want it to be
> up to the user. We don't want it to be up to the user in some complicated conf file
> hidden away somewhere. We both want it to be in your face, transparent. I should
> in an eyeblink be able to tell if I am anonymous or not, and I should be able
> to switch from one mode to the next if and when I want to in a simple easy gesture.
>
> Just as in real life when we put on a mask we know that we are wearing the mask,
> so on the web we want to know what mask we are wearing at all times.
>
> These are the improvements I have been fighting ( not alone ) to get browsers to
> implement. Are we fighting on the same side here?

I agree that it is desirable to know how your browser is identifying
you and to be able to switch between users. So, I guess Chrome would
claim that the facility to have multiple users provides this. Do you
disagree?

>
> Henry
>
>>
>>>
>>>>
>>>> Also the many blog posts which link to those.
>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> ________________________________
>>>>>
>>>>> From: Henry Story [mailto:henry.story@bblfish.net]
>>>>> Sent: 28 September 2012 13:49
>>>>> To: Henry Story
>>>>> Cc: Carvalho Melvin; public-philoweb@w3.org; Ben Laurie;
>>>>> public-webid@w3.org; Oshani Seneviratne
>>>>> Subject: Re: privacy definitions -- was: WebID questions
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On 28 Sep 2012, at 13:46, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On 28 Sep 2012, at 12:50, Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On 27 September 2012 21:09, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>> I think we have a problem with divergent understandings of what privacy
>>>>> amounts to,
>>>>> and we should clarify this divergence. More below.
>>>>>
>>>>> On 27 Sep 2012, at 14:45, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>> On 27 September 2012 13:11, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> On 27 Sep 2012, at 13:10, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> On 27 September 2012 12:01, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>>>>>>> I forgot to reply to this comment:
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> On 27 Sep 2012, at 12:13, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> The W3C does not seem to agree -
>>>>>>>>>> http://www.w3.org/2011/tracking-protection/drafts/tracking-dnt.html
>>>>>>>>>> claims
>>>>>>>>>> that some people do not want to be correlated across sites.
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> Yes. We are not saying they MUST be  correlated across sites, and we
>>>>>>>>> are not
>>>>>>>>> removing the freedom of people who wish not to be correlated.
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> When I go to a web site I don't have to click the login button. f I
>>>>>>>>> click
>>>>>>>>> the login button and it asks me for a certificate I don't have to
>>>>>>>>> choose one
>>>>>>>>> with a WebID - or choose one at all for that matter.
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> The browser UI people could add a field in the certificate login
>>>>>>>>> selection
>>>>>>>>> box for an origin-bound-certificate perhaps. I am not sure how they
>>>>>>>>> should
>>>>>>>>> present this, nor what the advantages or disadvanteges of doing that
>>>>>>>>> would
>>>>>>>>> be,  and it is outside the scope of the discussion here.
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> But if I want to login with an identity I have on the web, and I want
>>>>>>>>> this
>>>>>>>>> to be correlated, then I don't see why that freedom should not be
>>>>>>>>> available
>>>>>>>>> to me.
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> I am just saying that practically most people will not want to have
>>>>>>>>> 10000
>>>>>>>>> identities. Certainly if we restrict ourselves to identities that they
>>>>>>>>> want
>>>>>>>>> to use for correlation, it seems unlikely that people can cope with
>>>>>>>>> more
>>>>>>>>> than a handful or find it useful.
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> I find a standard that is not interested in helping people who want to
>>>>>>>> log in _and_ have privacy to not be very interesting.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> That is stated so generally it is difficult to make much of it.  You seem
>>>>>>> to want Origin-bound-certificates it seems as described here:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> http://tools.ietf.org/agenda/81/slides/tls-1.pdf
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> ( though the criticism of TLS certificates on slide 3 is wrong as I have
>>>>>>> already explained in
>>>>>>> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webid/2012Sep/0093.html )
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> I pointed out in my reply above that perhaps origin bound certificates
>>>>>>> could be tied  into a user experience with normal browsers and normal
>>>>>>> certificates. I don't see why there should  be a standard that solves both
>>>>>>> problems, or why they could not work together.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> Now this still leaves you with the option of thinking that the problem
>>>>>>> you really care about - secure login to one site - is the one and only truly
>>>>>>> honest problem that an engineer needs to solve who is concerned about
>>>>>>> privacy. Let me spend a little time disabusing you of that understandably
>>>>>>> simple and appealing idea.  Consider:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> 1. What kind of privacy do you get if you log into one site (say with
>>>>>>> Origin-bound certificates ) and it offers everything to you: your social
>>>>>>> networks, your films, your news, your search, etc... Is that really privacy?
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> 2. What incentive do you have when you go to a different site, and you
>>>>>>> log in there completely fresh? Let us imagine that that is the only thing
>>>>>>> you CAN do when you login to a new site: perhaps linked data and WebID have
>>>>>>> been made illegal in this world. So you arrive at this new site, and the
>>>>>>> number of people you can interact with is inevitably less than on mega-co's
>>>>>>> servers. You may find that cool. But where do you think the rest of humanity
>>>>>>> is going to end up on? And what does that do to your privacy when they tweet
>>>>>>> more and more where they saw you, what you told them, and in any case all
>>>>>>> the communication you send them has to go through megaco's servers.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> So consider why and how you came to think that "login and privacy" were
>>>>>>> the only thing to merit your attention. Also consider why you think that
>>>>>>> login and identity don't equal privacy. Say you have a freedom box and I
>>>>>>> have mine, and I go to your server and authenticate and post a picture. The
>>>>>>> only two people who can see the picture are you and me. Where is there a
>>>>>>> privacy gap there?
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> I believe you are serious in your desire for privacy. And I respect that.
>>>>>>> But I think by not taking into account the network effect, by not noticing
>>>>>>> the many folded nature of reality, you end up working against your own
>>>>>>> values, and discarding solutions that could help you achieve your aims. So I
>>>>>>> do urge you to consider WebID as another tool to help create a more just and
>>>>>>> less asymetric space for us to live in, where we can all enjoy greater
>>>>>>> privacy and security.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I've talked about many issues with WebID, why do you think privacy is
>>>>>> my sole concern?
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> You said "I find a standard that is not interested in helping people who
>>>>> want to log in _and_ have privacy to not be very interesting." But why would
>>>>> you think that WebID does not enable privacy?
>>>>>
>>>>> I then put that together with your earlier statement "that some people do
>>>>> not want to be correlated across sites."
>>>>> Referring to a document on DO-NOT-TRACK by the W3C. It seems that you think
>>>>> that being correlated across sites (in any way) is a privacy problem.
>>>>>
>>>>> If I put these together then it seems to me that you are thinking that a
>>>>> fundamental requirement for privacy is that one not be identified across
>>>>> sites in any way. You seem to exclude the possibility that I wilfully be
>>>>> identifying myself across a site, as one that cannot be privacy enhancing.
>>>>> Or else why would you think that WebID cannot be an option for people who
>>>>> are keen on privacy?
>>>>>
>>>>> My understanding of privacy starts from a different intuition. A
>>>>> communication between two people is private if the only people who have
>>>>> access to the communication are the two people in question. One can easily
>>>>> generalise to groups: a conversation between groups of people is private (to
>>>>> the group) if the only people who can participate/read the information are
>>>>> members of that group....
>>>>>
>>>>> So now imagine that you and I and each member of this mailing list have
>>>>> their own freedom box [1] . A freedom box is a one person server that serves
>>>>> only the person in question. I am purposefully taking an extreme example to
>>>>> make the point. Now lets imagine you put a picture of our future meeting at
>>>>> TPAC in late October - I hope you will be able to come - onto your freedom
>>>>> box, and tag the people who appear in that picture taken later at night in a
>>>>> bar. You may not want to make it public until and unless all the members who
>>>>> have appeared in the picture accept that picture to be public. So to keep it
>>>>> close to our current technology, let us say you send them an e-mail with the
>>>>> link to the page containing the pictures. You don't want all the people on
>>>>> the web who see that URL as it passes unencrypted through the etherspace to
>>>>> be able to also click on the URL and see the picture. So you add an access
>>>>> control rule to your page that only allows the people who were designed in
>>>>> the picture - by WebID - to access to those resources. On receiving the mail
>>>>> the tagged people can click on the picture's URL, authenticate with WebID,
>>>>> and see the picture. Anybody else who tried would not be able to see it: 403
>>>>> Access Forbidden. Now I would say that those pictures are protected for
>>>>> privacy - they are not public, and only visible to the designated group -
>>>>> and you have used WebID in the process of making sure they were kept
>>>>> private. There was no third person in the loop that also saw the pictures.
>>>>> Only those people you wanted to could see them.
>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> My point was this: if your response to a desire for privacy _amongst
>>>>>> many other things_ is "then don't use WebID" that seems like a
>>>>>> deficiency in WebID to me, and one that makes it a lot less
>>>>>> interesting to me.
>>>>>
>>>>> I was only saying: if you want to log into a site without using a WebID
>>>>> based certificate, then don't use a WebID based certificate. But don't think
>>>>> that by doing that you are guaranteeing your privacy. As I explained if
>>>>> there is only one big web site to rule them all and you log into it without
>>>>> webid, whatever you post there will be seen not only by the people you
>>>>> wanted to have it visible to, but also by the owners of the site. In our
>>>>> Freedbom Box scenario that is not the case. So this is a case of showing how
>>>>> having a global identity that the user can control enhances privacy.
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> FYI: Eben Moglen defines privacy as follows:
>>>>>
>>>>> Which brings us I will admit to back to this question of anonymity, or
>>>>> rather, personal autonomy. One of the really problematic elements in
>>>>> teaching young people, at least the young people I teach, about privacy, is
>>>>> that we use the word privacy to mean several quite distinct things. Privacy
>>>>> means secrecy, sometimes. That is to say, the content of a message is
>>>>> obscured to all but it's maker and intended recipient. Privacy means
>>>>> anonymity, sometimes, that means messages are not obscured, but the points
>>>>> generating and receiving those messages are obscured. And there is a third
>>>>> aspect of privacy which in my classroom I call autonomy. It is the
>>>>> opportunity to live a life in which the decisions that you make are
>>>>> unaffected by others' access to secret or anonymous communication.
>>>>>
>>>>> http://www.softwarefreedom.org/events/2012/freedom-to-connect_moglen-keynote-2012.html
>>>>>
>>>>> Would this be an acceptable working definition for this thread?
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Eben Moglen makes a good case against (unnecessary) centralisation of
>>>>>
>>>>> information in services  that you are not in control of. Note, that
>>>>> sometimes
>>>>>
>>>>> I do want  information not to be on my server: say if I get a degree from
>>>>>
>>>>> a university,  it has more value if the university states that I have the
>>>>> degree,
>>>>>
>>>>> than if I state it. Every person or organisation is a node in the publishing
>>>>> system.
>>>>>
>>>>> What is problematic is the loss of autonomy that could arise by giving away
>>>>>
>>>>> all one's information too easily. It won't happen simply because there are
>>>>>
>>>>> many organisations that are legally obliged to control those processes:
>>>>>
>>>>> e.g. health care organisations, companies (about their employees), armies,
>>>>>
>>>>> police departments, universities, etc...
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Eben Moglen brings up the topic of autonomy but does not develop
>>>>>
>>>>> it far enough. This is a very interesting topic that would be worth
>>>>> discussing
>>>>>
>>>>> on the Philosophy of the Web Community Group
>>>>>
>>>>>  http://www.w3.org/community/philoweb/
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> For the purposes of the argument here, I think the simple definition of
>>>>>
>>>>> privacy that I gave is sufficient. For a much much more researched
>>>>>
>>>>> analysis, also to be developed on philoweb, see the book by Helen
>>>>>
>>>>> Nissenbaum "Privacy in Context"
>>>>>
>>>>> http://www.amazon.com/Privacy-Context-Technology-Integrity-Stanford/dp/0804752370
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> If we put that together with work on speech acts starting from Austin,
>>>>> Searle,
>>>>>
>>>>> the debate with Derrida, ... and we put that together with HTTP considered
>>>>>
>>>>> as document acts, as I argue following Dan Conolly in my Philoweb
>>>>> presentation
>>>>>
>>>>> around 1/3 of the way in,
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> forgot the link:
>>>>>
>>>>> http://bblfish.net/tmp/2010/10/26/
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> then we can see how this ties in with work done by
>>>>>
>>>>> Oshani in her "usage restriction management" paper
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> http://dig.csail.mit.edu/2011/Papers/IEEE-Policy-httpa/paper.pdf
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Essentially Nissenbaum argues that the context in which information is given
>>>>>
>>>>> to someone is what determines privacy rules. We need to find some mechanism
>>>>>
>>>>> to declare those contexts in our ReadWriteWeb servers, and Oshani has
>>>>>
>>>>> made some first steps in that direction.
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>  But I don't think we should - nor can we - try to solve all issues here
>>>>> in this thread.
>>>>>
>>>>> But still it is useful to see where we are located in conceptual space here.
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Henry
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Henry
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> [1] http://freedomboxfoundation.org/
>>>>> [2] http://www.w3.org/2012/10/TPAC/
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Social Web Architect
>>>>> http://bblfish.net/
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>
>>> Social Web Architect
>>> http://bblfish.net/
>>>
>
> Social Web Architect
> http://bblfish.net/
>
Received on Monday, 1 October 2012 11:44:23 UTC

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