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

From: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@ibiblio.org>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:59:18 +0200
Message-ID: <CAE1ny+5iUibvdYOmtt+vU_fr+52mY9KtS5g0MgbnfkcMQZqcSw@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>
Sounds like a great idea. Note that many browsers are automagically
upgrading HTTP to HTTPS anyways using plug-ins like HTTPS Everywhere
[1].

I suspect that there are no websites that have really different things
in HTTP vs HTTP(S). Does anyone know of any that do?

The problem of TLS support seems to be more of an issue for Linked
Data. But as someone whose been using HTTP(S) only by default for the
last few years via HTTPS Everywhere while doing some Linked Data
hacking, I've noticed that probably 90% of the Linked Data websites
don't support HTTPS now. I suspect that will change to 90% support in
the next year or two.

The long-term goal for the Web should probably be to eliminate
plaintext HTTP in the future, so while really having network-level
encryption add-ons as part of the protocol name (i.e. dividing HTTPS
from HTTP in URIs) was probably not a great idea to begin with and any
harm should be minimized. In an ideal world, URIs with HTTP are just
HTTP URIs *regardless* of network level encryption.,

[1] https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

On Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 7:00 PM, 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 Friday, 22 August 2014 18:59:46 UTC

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