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Re: The ability to automatically upgrade a reference to HTTPS from HTTP

From: Marc Fawzi <marc.fawzi@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2014 06:55:34 -0700
Message-ID: <CACioZisSAXN88DxwDM1+8eZxBSXoEiR9qsmSWjvFssLJ3RPQtQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
Cc: Public TAG List <www-tag@w3.org>, SW-forum Web <semantic-web@w3.org>
Here is a question that may be a bit controversial:

The government can force Certificate Authorities to secretly hand over
their root certificates and the CAs can't do anything about it because of a
secret gag order. I'm also aware that some companies plan to snoop on their
employees' https traffic by becoming a certificate authority.

Both of these (confirmed?) facts should raise an alarm about the false
sense of security that HTTPS provides and it should open up the debate on
whether or not the move to HTTPS is anything more than a knee jerk reaction
that doesn't really address the problem.

This is to say that this proposal (I believe unintentionally) tries to
address the problem of how to make the move to https a smooth one while
ignoring the fact that HTTPS is breaking down as corporate governors and
national governments (and potentially criminal organizations unknown to us)
are able to bypass it.

What's up with that?!

On Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org> wrote:

> There is a massive and reasonable push to get everything from HTTP space
> into HTTPS.
> While this is laudable, the effect on the web as a hypertext system could
> be
> very severe, in that links into http: space will basically break all over
> the place.
> Basically every link in the HTTP web we are used to breaks.
> Here is a proposal, that we need this convention:
>          If two URIs differ only in the 's' of 'https:', then they may
> never be used for different things.
> That's sounds like a double negative way of putting it, but avoids saying
> things we don't want to mean.
> I don't mean you must always serve up https or always serve up http.
> Basically we are saying the 's' isn't a part of the identity of the
> resource, it is just a tip.
> So if I have successfully retrieved https:x  (for some value of x) and I
> have a link to http:x then I can satisfy following the link, by presenting
> what I got from https:x.
> I know that whatever I get if I do do the GET on the http:x, it can't be
> different from what I have.
> The opposite however is NOT true, as a page which links to https:x
> requires the transaction to be made securely.  Even if I have already
> looked up http:x < i can't assume that I can use it for htts:x.  But for
> reasons of security alone -- it would still be against the principle if the
> server did deliberately serve something different.
> This means that if you have built two completely separate web sites in
> HTTPS and HTTP space, and you may have used the same path (module the 's')
> for different things, then you are in trouble. But who would do that?   I
> assume the large search engines know who.
> I suppose an exception for human readable pages may be that the http:
> version has a warning on it that the user should accessing the https: one.
> With linked data pages, where a huge amount of the Linked Open Data cloud
> is in http: space last time I looked, systems using URIs for identifiers
> need to be able to canonicalize them so tht anything said about http:x
> applies equally to https:x.
> What this means is that a client given an http:  URL in a reference is
> always free to try out the HTTPS, just adding an S, and use result if the
>  is successful.
> Sometimes, if bowser security prevents a https-origin web page from
> loading any http resources as Firefox proudly does, [1], is you are writing
> a general purpose web app which has to read arbitrary web resources with
> XHR, ironically, you have to serve it over HTTP!     In the mean time, many
> client libraries will I assume need to just try HTTPS as that is all they
> are allowed.
> Or do we have to only build serious internet applications as browser
> extensions or native apps?
> For this any many related reasons, we need to first get a very high level
> principle that if a client switches from http to http of its own accord,
> then it can't be given misleading data as a result.
> I suspect has been discussed in many fora -- apologies if the issue is
> already noted and resolved, and do point to where it has
> TimBL
> [1]
> https://blog.mozilla.org/tanvi/2013/04/10/mixed-content-blocking-enabled-in-firefox-23/
> In order for this switch to be made, transitions
Received on Sunday, 24 August 2014 13:56:43 UTC

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