Toward no longer running naked through the digital world

We live in two worlds now: the natural one where we have bodies that obey the laws of gravity and space/time, and the virtual one where there is no gravity or distance (though there is time).

Rather than talk about that here, I’ll direct you instead to my TEDx talk on the topic, which I gave last month in Santa Barbara:

Next I visited the same topic with a collection of brilliant folk at the Ostrom Workshop on Smart Cities. Among those was Brett Frischmann, whose canonical work on infrastructure I covered here, and who in Re-Engineering Humanity (with Evan Selinger) explains exactly how giants in the digital infrastructure business are hacking the shit out of us—a topic I also visit in Engineers vs. Re-Engineering (my August editorial in Linux Journal).

Now also comes Bruce Schneier, with his perfectly titled book Click Here to Kill Everybody: Continue reading "Toward no longer running naked through the digital world"

The core Token Binding specs are now RFCs 8471, 8472, and 8473

IETF logoThe IETF Token Binding working group has completed the core Token Binding specifications. These new standards are:

  • RFC 8471: The Token Binding Protocol Version 1.0
  • RFC 8472: Transport Layer Security (TLS) Extension for Token Binding Protocol Negotiation
  • RFC 8473: Token Binding over HTTP

As Alex Simons recently wrote, it’s time for token binding. Especially now that the core specs are done, now’s the time for platforms and applications to deploy Token Binding. This will enable replacing bearer tokens, which can be stolen and reused, with Token Bound tokens, which are useless if stolen. This is a huge security benefit applicable to any tokens used over TLS, including browser cookies, OAuth access tokens and refresh tokens, and OpenID Connect ID Tokens.

Congratulations especially to the editors Andrei Popov, Dirk Balfanz, Jeff Hodges, Magnus Nyström, and Nick Harper and the chairs John Bradley and Leif Johansson for getting Continue reading "The core Token Binding specs are now RFCs 8471, 8472, and 8473"

Vote to update OpenID IPR Policy document now

A quick reminder that the vote to approve updates to the OpenID IPR Policy document is under way. If you’re an OpenID Foundation member, I encourage you to vote to approve the updates now at https://openid.net/foundation/members/polls/151.

As described in the OpenID Foundation post Proposed Revisions to OpenID IPR Policy Document, the updates enable the use of electronic signatures on contributor agreements instead of requiring on-paper signatures and simplify the descriptions of working group contributors, all without changing the IPR rights of any party.

The foundation needs 30% of the membership to vote in order for the changes to take effect, so please take a moment and vote now. Thanks!

We can do better than selling our data

fruit thought

If personal data is actually a commodity, can you buy some from another person, as if that person were a fruit stand? Would you want to?

Well, no.

Nor is there much if any evidence that businesses will want to buy personal data from individuals, on a per-person basis, especially when they can still get it for free. (GDPR withstanding, alas.)

Yet there is lately a widespread urge to claim personal data as personal property, and to create commodity markets for personal data, so people can start making money by selling or otherwise monetizing their own.

There are many problems with this, beside the one I just mentioned.

First is that, economically speaking, data is a public good, meaning non-rivalrous and non-excludable. Here’s a table that may help (borrowed from this Linux Journal column):

Excludability Excludability
YES NO
Rivalness YES Private good: good: Continue reading "We can do better than selling our data"

Fall Travel 2018

Working away on Book Two! A few trips this fall:

October 10-13: AOIR in Montreal; participating in the Early Career workshop and presenting on a great panel on disinfo featuring me, Sam Woolley, Francesca Tripodi and Caroline Jack

October 17: On the Science of Disinformation panel at the Harvard Data Science Initiative conference, Boston, MA.

October 27-28: Locked out of Social Platforms: An iCS Symposium on Challenges to Studying Disinformation (IT University, Copenhagen, Denmark) – keynote

November 2: “My Mother Was a Computer”: Legacies of Gender and Technology” digital humanities symposium at William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA

Multi-Source and Self-Sovereign Identity

Summary: Self-sovereign identity is multi-source, but not all multi-source identity systems are self-sovereign. Self-sovereignty requires that people and organizations have control of their credentials and interact as peers.

A Wallet Holding Credentials

The world is full of credentials. Some, like a driving license, an employee ID card, a passport, or a university diploma are widely recognized as such. But many other things are also credentials: a store receipt, a boarding pass, or a credit score, for example. Credentials, designed properly, allow verifiable data to be employed in workflows without centralized hubs, point-to-point integrations, or real-time communication between the various players. Credentials enable decentralized, asynchronous workflows.

The Issuer/Holder/Verifier Trust Triangle
The Issuer/Holder/Verifier Trust Triangle

Multi-source identity (MSI) allows multiple credentials from multiple providers to be brought to bear, flexibly and conveniently, in a situation where trusted attestations are needed for the participants in a workflow to make progress. In MSI, there are three players: credential issuers, credential holders, and Continue reading "Multi-Source and Self-Sovereign Identity"

You’ve Had an Automobile Accident: Multi-Source Identity to the Rescue

Summary: The real world is messy and unpredictable. Creating an identity system that is flexible enough to support the various ad hoc scenarios that the world presents us with can only be done using a decentralized system like Sovrin that allows multiple credentials from various authorities to be shared in the ways the scenario demands.

Car crash scene with police nobody hurt

Earlier I wrote about the idea of multi-source identity that allows multiple authorities to make assertions about people, organizations, and things that can be verified. Multi-source identity becomes self-sovereign identity when the individual is able to control those assertions and use them in a privacy-preserving manner whenever and where ever they want.

Recently Joe Andrieu gave a presentation about the role of multiple assertions in a real-life situation—an automobile accident. As I listened, I thought it was an excellent example because it showed clearly the power of being able to bring multiple, independent credentials to

Credential Uses in a Car Accident
Continue reading "You’ve Had an Automobile Accident: Multi-Source Identity to the Rescue"

Please let’s finally kill logins and passwords

How would you feel if you had been told in the early days of the Web that in the year 2018 you would still need logins and passwords for damned near everything.

Your faith in the tech world would be deeply shaken, no?

And what if you had been told that in 2018 logins and passwords would now be required for all kinds of other shit, from applications on mobile devices to subscription services on TV?

Or worse, that in 2018 you would be rob-logged-out of sites and services frequently, whether you were just there or not, for security purposes — and that logging back in would often require “two factor” authentication, meaning you have to do even more work to log in to something, and that (also for security purposes) every password you use would not only have be different, but impossible for any human to remember, especially when average Continue reading "Please let’s finally kill logins and passwords"

Starting the Hyperledger Indy test pool reachable on your WIFI network






Hyperledger Indy's README.md explains how to start the @Sovrin test pool on localhost using docker and in a docker network.


Doing it this way the pool is not reachable from clients that are not on your local machine.
Building a mobile app then has the problem that the phone can't talk to the test pool because neither localhost nor the private docker network are reachable.

Starting the test pool on a specific IP address

Dockerfile ci/indy-pool.dockerfile supports an optional pool_ip param that allows changing the IP address of the pool nodes in the generated pool configuration.

You can start the pool with e.g. the IP address of your development machine's WIFI interface so that mobile apps in the same network can reach the pool.

# replace 192.168.179.90 with your wifi IP address
docker build --build-arg pool_ip=192.168.179.90 -f ci/indy-pool.dockerfile -t
Continue reading "Starting the Hyperledger Indy test pool reachable on your WIFI network"

On presuming competence

A few weeks ago, while our car honked its way through dense traffic in Delhi, I imagined an Onion headline: American Visitor Seeks To Explain What He’ll Never Understand About India.

By the norms of traffic laws in countries where people’s tendency is largely to obey them, vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the dense parts of Indian cities appears to be chaotic to an extreme. Yet it’s clearly at least … well, organic. People do seem to go where they want, individually and collectively. Somehow. Some way. Or ways. Many of them. Alone and together. Never mind that a four-lane divided highway will have traffic moving constantly, occasionally in both directions on both sides—and that it includes humans, dogs, cattle, rickshaws and bikes, some laden with bags of cargo that look like they belong in a truck, in addition to cars, trucks and motorcycles, all packed together and honking constantly.

Continue reading "On presuming competence"

Second W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) Candidate Recommendation (CR)

W3C logoW3C has published a second W3C Candidate Recommendation (CR) for the Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification. The second Candidate Recommendation is at https://www.w3.org/TR/2018/CR-webauthn-20180807/.

This draft contains a few refinements since the first candidate recommendation but no substantial changes. The new CR was needed to fulfill the W3C’s IPR protection requirements. The few changes were based, in part, upon things learned during multiple interop events for WebAuthn implementations. The working group plans to base coming the Proposed Recommendation on this draft.

Building an Android App with Sovrin





Thanks to the hard work of Mohammad Abdul Sami Sovrin enthusiasts now have support building libindy for Android in the master branch of our repo.


You can now build the libindy libraries for Android by just running a script. Yeah!
If you want to spare that building process you can download the libraries from Evernym. Thanks!

Now what? You have a libindy.so for arm, arm64 and x86, but how do you use it?

I have created an Android Studio sample application DroidLibIndy that you might use as a starting point (if you don't like reading blog posts).

Still reading? Here is a list of quirks you need in your flashy new Indy-App.

  1. First you have to put the libindy library into the correct jni folder e.g.:
    app/src/main/jniLibs/arm64-v8a
    This other way to do this did not work for me.
  2. Source code and Target compatibility have to be Java
    Continue reading "Building an Android App with Sovrin"

A helpful approach to personal data protection regulation

Enforcing Data Protection: A Model for Risk-Based Supervision Using Responsive Regulatory Tools, a post by Dvara Research, summarizes Effective Enforcement of a Data Protection Regime, by Beni Chugh, Malavika Raghavan, Nishanth Kumar & Sansiddha Pani. While it addresses proximal concerns in India, it provides useful guidance for data regulators everywhere.

An excerpt:

Any data protection regulator faces certain unique challenges. The ubiquitous collection and use of personal data by service providers in the modern economy creates a vast space for a regulator to oversee. Contraventions of a data protection regime may not immediately manifest and when they do, may not have a clear monetary or quantifiable harm. The enforcement perimeter is market-wide, so a future data protection authority will necessarily interface with other sectoral institutions.  In light of these challenges, we present a model for enforcement of a data protection regime based on risk-based supervision and the use

Continue reading "A helpful approach to personal data protection regulation"

The Sovrin Foundation

Summary: This article describes the role that the Sovrin Foundation and associated groups play in governing, operating, and using the Sovrin Network. The Sovrin Network is designed and intended to be decentralized so understanding the key influence points and community groups is important.

Freifunk Mesh

In Decentralized Governance in Sovrin, I wrote:

The Sovrin Network is a global public utility for identity that we all own, collectively, just like we all own the Internet.

When I say Sovrin is "public," I mean that it is a public good that anyone can use so long as they adhere to the proper protocols, just like the Internet. Sovrin is created through the cooperation of many people and organizations. Enabling that cooperation requires more than luck. In Coherence and Decentralized Systems, I wrote:

Public spaces require coherence. Coherence in Sovrin springs from the ledger, the protocols, the trust framework, standards, and market incentives.

Continue reading "The Sovrin Foundation"

New Paper: Why do people share fake news?

I’m really proud of this paper. It’s my attempt to further a new model of media effects that takes into account active audiences, media messages, and technological affordances. I focus on conservative audiences for fake news as a case study.

Basically: People share fake news because it furthers partisan narratives that are promoted by mainstream (mostly) conservative media and expresses personal and political identity.

Findings:

  • Most fake news isn’t political, but sensational. Still more is created to be polysemic and appeal to people across the political spectrum in order to increase viewership (and therefore money).
  • Conservative fake news doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Much of it builds on “deep stories” that have been present on Fox News for decades.
  • The mainstream media (NYTimes, WaPo, etc.) is tied to an elite, liberal identity. Part of this is due to years of conservative media promoting the idea that urban elites look Continue reading "New Paper: Why do people share fake news?"

Poor Little Piggie

Years ago we were sharing stories about our children. I was recounting to Natalie my favorite funny stories about her. She share with me a funny story about Miles. This little animation is my attempt to keep that memory in animation form.

I hope it is close to what you told me Nat.

IETF Token Binding specifications sent to the RFC Editor

IETF logoThe three core IETF Token Binding Specifications have been sent to the RFC Editor, which means that their normative content will no longer change. It’s time to move implementations to version 1.0! The abstract of the Token Binding over HTTP specification describes Token Binding as:

This document describes a collection of mechanisms that allow HTTP servers to cryptographically bind security tokens (such as cookies and OAuth tokens) to TLS connections.

We describe both first-party and federated scenarios. In a first-party scenario, an HTTP server is able to cryptographically bind the security tokens it issues to a client, and which the client subsequently returns to the server, to the TLS connection between the client and server. Such bound security tokens are protected from misuse since the server can generally detect if they are replayed inappropriately, e.g., over other TLS connections.

Federated token bindings, on the other hand, allow Continue reading "IETF Token Binding specifications sent to the RFC Editor"

Exploring Self-Sovereign Identity in India

Summary: I spent almost two weeks talking with people about self-sovereign identity in Switzerland and India. I'm more excouraged than ever that self-sovereign identity holds the key to real change in how we live our digital lives with security, privacy, and dignity.

Visiting a fertilizer distribution center near Vijayawada to see Aadhaar in action

I'm just finishing up my travel to Switzerland and India to talk about self-sovereign identity. The trip was amazing and full of interesting and important conversatons.

The TechCrunch event in Zug was very good. I was skeptical of a one-day conference with so much happening in a short time, but thanks to great preparation by those running the show and all the participants, it exceeded my expectations in every way. I spoke on a panel with Sam Cassatt of and Guy Zyskind from Enigma. Samantha Rosestein was the moderator.

But it was the conversations I had with people at the event that really made it interesting. Self-sovereign identity Continue reading "Exploring Self-Sovereign Identity in India"