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

Re: privacy definitions -- was: WebID questions

From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2012 15:41:52 +0200
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>
Message-Id: <DE9DD2BA-424E-4CCF-9E21-938B2DE07F79@bblfish.net>
To: Ben Laurie <benl@google.com>

On 1 Oct 2012, at 15:36, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:

> On 1 October 2012 14:07, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>> On 1 Oct 2012, at 14:35, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>>> On 1 October 2012 13:20, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net> wrote:
>>>> On 1 Oct 2012, at 13:43, Ben Laurie <benl@google.com> wrote:
>>>>> 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?
>>>> I looked up multiple Users and found this:
>>>> http://support.google.com/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2364824
>>>> I had not seen this before.
>>>> So it seems to work for certificates. I created a new user Tester, and
>>>> noticed the following as that Tester:
>>>> 0. It did not have any of my bookmarks ( I suppose that's useful, cause your
>>>>  bookmarks could identify you )
>>>> 1. When I went to Google+ it did not know I was
>>>> 2. Having signed in to https://my-profile.eu/ as the old user, I tried as the
>>>>   new user Tester, and had to select a certificate again. Good.
>>>> So that seems like one way to separate one's personalities. I'd still like to
>>>> have the url bar show me for each tab:
>>>> [anonymous] when I am not logged in
>>>> [cookie] when I am tracked on that site
>>>> [henry story] for a local site identity
>>>> [bblfish@home] when I am using a certificate
>>>> With the option of logging out from that site (ie checking x -> anonymous ). Because
>>>> currently I could forget that I had chosen a certificate on a site, and it
>>>> would continue sending it. Or I could mistakenly choose a certificate as one user,
>>>> and then decide that was the wrong user for that persona, and not be able to choose
>>>> the certificate again, without closing my browser completely. That would allow, on
>>>> browser startup, the browser to remember the last identity choice for a site. Without
>>>> logout capability that is not possible, because then it would be impossible to repair
>>>> an identity mistake without creating a new user. (And it makes testing tedious).
>>>> Currently when I close my browser, on restart the servers ask me for my certificate again.
>>>> So it looks like this is going generally in the right direction. It still does not provide
>>>> the transparency we are looking for at the UI level above. But thanks for pointing this out.
>>>> So I think we agree that what is missing is the transparency at the UI level of which identity
>>>> one is using at each site. That is what I was hoping the following bug report would achieve.
>>>> http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=29784
>>>> So perhaps by putting this forward under the term transparency, that would help that bug report
>>>> progress, since otherwise they could thing that the issue had already been completely solved.
>>>> So that's what I make of that. But have I missed something? Or do we agree there too?
>>> I don't think so
>>> . As I said, I think that Chrome would claim that the
>>> users facility provides everything you need - if you want to know
>>> which cert you're using, then have a user per cert. As for cookies and
>>> "local site identities", this would require information the browser
>>> does not currently have, so I think you would first have to explain
>>> how it is going to get that information.
>> Well the browser knows when it sends a cookie. So showing a [cookie]
>> icon would be easy there. When you are in anonymous mode it does not
>> send a cookie. (perhaps a no-cookie/cert icon - would be more precise)
>> As for per site identity that is what the Mozilla folks were working
>> with Aza Raskin
>> http://www.azarask.in/blog/post/identity-in-the-browser-firefox/
>> But until a standard is agree to there, one could already have
>> a [cookie] icon...
> Sure, but it would be pretty pointless: I just checked and every
> single tab I have open has some cookies associated.

So perhaps then only show anonymous when no cookie is there.

>>> For anonymous, Chrome already has an anonymous mode (though note that
>>> you don't really stay anonymous for long once you enter it, since it
>>> must still use cookies or the 'net stops working - also bookmarks are
>>> still available in anon mode).
>> As above the browser knows when it sends cookies: and so it can show
>> the user that it is doing that.
>>> I believe that Chrome experimented with per-tab personas and found
>>> that it was a terrible user experience, btw.
>> It does not look that bad in Aza Raskin's proposal, and the Account
>> Manager work at Mozilla
>> https://wiki.mozilla.org/Labs/Weave/Identity/Account_Manager
>> My guess is that the project to create the multiple user work
>> at Chrome trumped the development of good identity transparency
>> solutions. That often happens in engineering: one good idea
>> hides another one for a while.
> Or, as I said, it turns out to not work very well. That happens even
> more often, and apparently has happened in this case. Saying it
> doesn't look that bad to you doesn't change it!

Look if we are serious thinkers we first select our principles and
then we search for a solution. It may be that we have not found the
solution, yet. But since we have established an important principle of 
transparency, we keep looking until we find the solution. I am 
not dictating the solution. I am saying we agreed on a principle,
so it is now a question of solving it in good will.

>> In any case there is a lack of transparency in the multiple user
>> set up that still needs to be rectified. How that is done I'll leave
>> to UI experts. But I'll recognise a good solution whatever form it
>> takes.
>> Now here with WebID we are assuming such a solution will be found
>> by one of the browser vendors in good time, and then adopted by the
>> others. The current interface  we can agree is not good enough for
>> sure, but the problems we are trying to  solve are  important enough
>> that we can work with the current limitations of browser.
> Who is the "we" that can agree it? And why is it not good enough? You
> have not explained that at all.

I did explain it. But it must have gotten lost in some threads.
I'll start a new thread on that.

>> That leaves us with the importance of cross site identity. I think
>> I have a very powerful argument in favour of its importance. It is
>> important for a certain kind of privacy to be possible: that between
>> two people or groups of people wishing to exchange documents that
>> should only be visible to certain people and no others. This is the
>> case when someone wishes to discuss something with a doctor, or when
>> someone wishes to publish photos of people at a party without making
>> it fully public, and in many many other circumstances.  It is important
>> for creating a distributed social network, which I will call the
>> Social Web.  The Web and the internet have always been about distribution
>> and decentralisation of information. We want to do that using WebID in
>> a manner that increases privacy. I will be working on showing how
>> this can be done on the Web, and on the Web running over Tor.
>> Henry
>> Social Web Architect
>> http://bblfish.net/

Social Web Architect

Received on Monday, 1 October 2012 13:59:59 UTC

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