W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webpayments@w3.org > February 2013

Re: Web Payments and Privacy

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Wed, 06 Feb 2013 14:32:14 -0500
Message-ID: <5112AFBE.3030000@digitalbazaar.com>
To: public-webpayments@w3.org
On 02/06/2013 12:50 PM, Steven Rowat wrote:
> I'm not familiar enough with PaySwarm at the coding level to know if 
> this, as a necessary option, is already built into it. Is it?

It's already built in. It was a design requirement that was there from
the beginning. :)

> But I'm probably preaching to the converted. :-)

You are, :) but I don't think we've clearly outlined what is and isn't
supported at the moment.

> What's the state of this in PaySwarm?

To the extent allowed by US law, anonymous transactions are allowed
between a vendor and a buyer in PaySwarm. At no point does our PA
transmit name or address information, or purchase history, without the
express knowledge of the financial account holder.

Keep in mind that this anonymity does not extend to the relationship
that the PaySwarm Authority and the buyer has because credit card
agreements and banking account agreements do not allow anonymous
accounts due to Know Your Customer[1] regulations in the US (to my
knowledge). This is mainly in place to prevent money-laundering,
terrorism-funding, and other illegal activities.

The only pieces of "identifying" information that are given when you
perform a purchase are things hanging off of your identity URL, which
can look like this:


So, this might also be provided when purchasing an asset:


and perhaps your digital signature key in some purchasing scenarios:


You can create as many of those identity URLs, accounts, and keys as
you'd like (within reason).

So yes, we support anonymous transactions from the standpoint of the
buyer-vendor relationship. One could argue that the identifiers that
folks using PaySwarm create for themselves are pseudo-anonymous because
over time, a number of vendors that are colluding can assemble their
purchase data together into a "buying profile".

To address this issue, we've discussed a mechanism that automatically
creates a new identity URL for every purchase that you make in
"anonymous" mode, making even piecing together a buying history
impossible for the vendor. We haven't implemented this yet, as there are
other strategies that may be more effective (such as allowing globally
shared identities/financial accounts, or pooling all anonymous purchases
until one identity).

-- manu

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_your_customer

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny, G+: +Manu Sporny)
President/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: Aaron Swartz, PaySwarm, and Academic Journals
Received on Wednesday, 6 February 2013 19:32:43 UTC

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