For privacy we need tech more than policy

Nature and the Internet both came without privacy.

The difference is that we’ve invented privacy tech in the natural world, starting with clothing and shelter, and we haven’t yet done the same in the digital world.

When we go outside in the digital world, most of us are still walking around naked. Worse, nearly every commercial website we visit plants tracking beacons on us to support the extractive economy in personal data called adtech: tracking-based advertising.

In the natural world, we also have long-established norms for signaling what’s private, what isn’t, and how to respect both. Laws have grown up around those norms as well. But let’s be clear: the tech and the norms came first.

Yet for some reason many of us see personal privacy as a grace of policy. It’s like, “The answer is policy. What is the question?”

Two such answers arrived with this morning’s  Continue reading "For privacy we need tech more than policy"

OpenID Certification wins the 2018 Identity Innovation Award

OpenID Certified logoI’m thrilled that the OpenID Certification program has won the 2018 Identity Innovation Award at the IDnext conference. See the award announcement by the OpenID Foundation for more details.

The award recognizes that the OpenID Certification program has become a significant global force promoting high-quality, secure, interoperable OpenID Connect implementations. Its innovative use of self-certification using freely available online tools has made testing the quality of OpenID Connect implementations simple, effective, and commonplace. Thanks to IDnext for recognizing the impact of the OpenID Certification program!

Identity Innovation Award

Identity Innovation Award Presentation

What Does Logout Mean?

OAuth logoDigital identity systems almost universally support end-users logging into applications and many also support logging out of them. But while login is reasonable well understood, there are many different kinds of semantics for “logout” in different use cases and a wide variety of mechanisms for effecting logouts.

I led a discussion on the topic “What Does Logout Mean?” at the 2018 OAuth Security Workshop in Trento, Italy, which was held the week before IETF 101, to explore this topic. The session was intentionally a highly interactive conversation, gathering information from the experts at the workshop to expand our collective understanding of the topic. Brock Allen – a practicing application security architect (and MVP for ASP.NET/IIS) – significantly contributed to the materials used to seed the discussion. And Nat Sakimura took detailed notes to record what we learned during the discussion.

Feedback on the discussion was uniformly positive. Continue reading "What Does Logout Mean?"

Building Your Business on Sovrin: Domain-Specific Trust Frameworks

Summary: A domain-specific trust framework is a collection of policies, legal agreements and technologies that provides the context for claims in a given domain. Sovrin Foundation provides a structure and supporting systems for groups defining trust frameworks. This post describes how domain-specific trust frameworks function.

Working in a Framework

In Decentralized Governance in Sovrin, I described how the Sovrin Network is governed. The centerpiece of that discussion is the Sovrin Trust Framework. The trust framework serves as the constitution for Sovrin, laying out the principles upon which Sovrin is governed and the specific requirements for various players in the Sovrin Ecosystem.

In A Universal Trust Framework, I say “a trust framework provides the structure necessary to leap between the known and unknown.” The idea is that online we often lack the necessary context to reduce the risk around the decisions we make. A trust framework defines that context using agreement, process,

Claim Issuing and Presenting
Continue reading "Building Your Business on Sovrin: Domain-Specific Trust Frameworks"

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing

Let’s start with Facebook’s Surveillance Machine, by Zeynep Tufekci in last Monday’s New York Times. Among other things (all correct), Zeynep explains that “Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.”

Giant Irony Alert: the same is true for the Times, along with every other publication that lives off adtech: surveillance-based advertising. These pubs don’t just open the kimonos of their readers. They treat them as naked beings whose necks are bared to vampires ravenous for the blood of personal data, all ostensibly so those persons can be served with “interest-based” advertising.

With no control by readers (beyond tracking protection which relatively few know how to use), and damn little care or control by the publishers who bare those readers’ necks to the vampires,

Continue reading "Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing"

W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification has achieved Candidate Recommendation (CR) status

W3C logoThe W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification is now a W3C Candidate Recommendation (CR). See the specification at https://www.w3.org/TR/2018/CR-webauthn-20180320/ and my blog post announcing this result for the WebAuthn working group at https://www.w3.org/blog/webauthn/2018/03/20/candidate-recommendation/.

This milestone represents a huge step towards enabling logins to occur using privacy-preserving public/private key pairs securely held by authenticators, rather than passwords. Its contents have been informed by what we learned during several rounds of interop testing by multiple browser and authenticator vendors. The Web Authentication spec has also progressed in parallel with and been kept in sync with the FIDO2 Client To Authenticator Protocol (CTAP) specification, so that they work well together.

CBOR Web Token (CWT) spec for the RFC Editor

IETF logoOne more clarification to the CBOR Web Token (CWT) specification has been made to address a comment by IESG member Adam Roach. This version is being sent to the RFC Editor in preparation for its publication as an RFC. The change was:

  • Added section references when the terms “NumericDate” and “StringOrURI” are used, as suggested by Adam Roach.

Special thanks to Security Area Director Kathleen Moriarty for helping get this across the finish line!

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

CBOR Web Token (CWT) spec addressing IESG comments

IETF logoThe CBOR Web Token (CWT) specification has been updated to address comments received from Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) members. Changes were:

  • Cleaned up the descriptions of the numeric ranges of claim keys being registered in the registration template for the “CBOR Web Token (CWT) Claims” registry, as suggested by Adam Roach.
  • Clarified the relationships between the JWT and CWT “NumericDate” and “StringOrURI” terms, as suggested by Adam Roach.
  • Eliminated unnecessary uses of the word “type”, as suggested by Adam Roach.
  • Added the text “IANA must only accept registry updates from the Designated Experts and should direct all requests for registration to the review mailing list” from RFC 7519, as suggested by Amanda Baber of IANA, which is also intended to address Alexey Melnikov’s comment.
  • Removed a superfluous comma, as suggested by Warren Kumari.
  • Acknowledged additional reviewers.

Special thanks to Security Area Director Kathleen Moriarty for helping get this across Continue reading "CBOR Web Token (CWT) spec addressing IESG comments"

Enough Alreadies

I just unsubscribed from Quora notifications.

Reasons:

  1. With my new full-time gig as editor-in-chief of Linux Journal, I have close to no time for anything else, even though many other obligations do take time. Some of those also pay, and so require that I cut out as many distractions as I can.
  2. The filter bubble thing works a bit too well. Two topics I’ve answered a lot—about IQ and radio—seem to bring an avalanche of others that beg to be answered, which I do too quickly, again and again. As a result I’ve said the same damn thing, or the same kinds of damn things, too many times.
  3. I’m not sure writing there does much good. But then, the world is now so thick with “content” that I’m not sure writing anywhere does as much good as it used to.
  4. It’s time now to look for effects. Except Continue reading "Enough Alreadies"

The Game’s Afoot!

After eight and a half years at Ping Identity, I am amazed to say that I’m moving on. I have had the privilege of working with incredibly talented people, from the CTO team to the product management team, to the entire field sales and technical corps.  I am so proud of what Ping has made in the last eight years and of the things that we have chosen to hold dear: quality software, long-term deep relationships with customers, and leadership in identity standards through practicing what we preach.  Also, serious costume parties ?

Some of my favorite PingIdentians

My other incredible windfall has been to meet brilliant and talented customer architects. They have taught me so much about the bigger picture, the reality that all the vision has to fit into, before it can resonate.

Last, I want to say something about the two people who were my

Continue reading "The Game’s Afoot!"

What We Learn about Self-Sovereignty from CryptoKitties

Summary: CryptoKitties are a useful example of digital ownership and self-sovereignty except for one small flaw.

Late last year CryptoKitties burst into the blockchain world. If you haven't been paying attention, CryptoKitties is a Web site that uses a browser-based wallet (MetaMask) to sell (for Ether) little virtual kitties. Once you have a kittie, you can breed it with others, to create new kitties. Each one is a unique individual created with some genetic algorithm. Some Gen 0 or Gen 1 kitties have sold for ridiculous amounts of money. If you were around in the 90's when the Web was taking off, think Beanie Babies meets Blockchain and you'll get the idea1.

Except it's a little more interesting than Beanie Babies ever were because each CryptoKittie is really a non-fungible token on the Ethreum blockchain. This means each kittie has some interesting properties:

W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification almost a Candidate Recommendation (CR)

W3C logoThe eighth working draft of the W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification has been published. The WebAuthn working group plans to submit this draft for approval by the W3C Director (Tim Berners-Lee) to become a W3C Candidate Recommendation (CR), after a few days’ review by the working group.

This milestone represents a huge step towards enabling logins to occur using public/private key pairs securely held by authenticators, rather than passwords. Its contents have been informed by what we learned during several rounds of interop testing by multiple browser and authenticator vendors. The Web Authentication spec has also progressed in parallel with and been kept in sync with the FIDO 2 Client To Authenticator Protocol (CTAP) specification, so that they work well together.

CBOR Web Token (CWT) draft addressing IETF last call comments

IETF logoThe CBOR Web Token (CWT) specification has been updated to address IETF last call comments received to date, including GenArt, SecDir, Area Director, and additional shepherd comments. Changes were:

  • Clarified the registration criteria applied to different ranges of Claim Key values, as suggested by Kathleen Moriarty and Dan Romascanu.
  • No longer describe the syntax of CWT claims as being the same as that of the corresponding JWT claims, as suggested by Kyle Rose.
  • Added guidance about the selection of the Designated Experts, as suggested by Benjamin Kaduk.
  • Acknowledged additional reviewers.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

OAuth Authorization Server Metadata spec addressing additional IESG feedback

OAuth logoThe OAuth Authorization Server Metadata specification has been updated to address additional IESG feedback. The only change was to clarify the meaning of “case-insensitive”, as suggested by Alexey Melnikov.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs) spec with a few improvements

IETF logoA few local improvements have been made to the Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs) specification. Changes were:

  • Changed “typically” to “often” when describing ways of performing proof of possession.
  • Changed b64 to hex encoding in an example.
  • Changed to using the RFC 8174 boilerplate instead of the RFC 2119 boilerplate.

Thanks to Samuel Erdtman for sharing the editing.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

Security Event Token (SET) spec addressing 2nd WGLC and shepherd comments

IETF logoA new draft of the Security Event Token (SET) specification has published that addresses review comments from the second Working Group Last Call and shepherd comments from Yaron Sheffer. Changes were:

  • Changed “when the event was issued” to “when the SET was issued” in the “iat” description, as suggested by Annabelle Backman.
  • Applied editorial improvements that improve the consistency of the specification that were suggested by Annabelle Backman, Marius Scurtescu, and Yaron Sheffer.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

OAuth Authorization Server Metadata spec addressing IESG feedback

OAuth logoThe OAuth Authorization Server Metadata specification has been updated to address feedback received from IESG members. Changes were:

  • Revised the transformation between the issuer identifier and the authorization server metadata location to conform to BCP 190, as suggested by Adam Roach.
  • Defined the characters allowed in registered metadata names and values, as suggested by Alexey Melnikov.
  • Changed to using the RFC 8174 boilerplate instead of the RFC 2119 boilerplate, as suggested by Ben Campbell.
  • Acknowledged additional reviewers.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

Sovrin Foundation Welcomes Nathan George

Summary: Hiring a full time CTO is a big step for the Sovrin Foundation. I'm excited Nathan is joining us.

The Sovrin Foundation is excited to announce that we have hired of Nathan George as our Chief Technology Officer. Nathan was previously Chief Architect at Evernym, Inc. He has been instrumental in maintaining the Hyperledger open-source Project Indy, which is sponsored by the Sovrin Foundation. Nathan comes with a wealth of experience that will help Sovrin thrive and reach its full potential.

I’m very excited to have Nathan join the foundation. The Sovrin Foundation is much more than an advocacy organization for self-sovereign identity. As I wrote in Decentralized Governance in the Sovrin Foundation, the foundation exists to administer the Sovrin Trust Framework and a significant aspect of that entails designing and implementing protocols, managing Project Indy, and supporting the Sovrin Stewards in their operation of the network nodes. These Continue reading "Sovrin Foundation Welcomes Nathan George"

A Qualified Fail

Power of the People is a great grabber of a headline, at least for me. But it’s a pitch for a report that requires filling out the form here on the right:

You see a lot of these: invitations to put one’s digital ass on mailing list, just to get a report that should have been public in the first place, but isn’t so personal data can be harvested and sold or given away to God knows who.

And you do more than just “agree to join” a mailing list. You are now what marketers call a “qualified lead” for countless other parties you’re sure to be hearing from.

And how can you be sure? Read the privacy policy,. This one (for Viantinc.com) begins,

If you choose to submit content to any public area of our websites or services, your content will be considered “public” and will

Continue reading "A Qualified Fail"