[guardian-dev] WOT and Authentication Research

Patrick Baxter patch at cs.ucsb.edu
Wed Jan 16 21:04:10 EST 2013

Hi Hans,

Thanks for jumping in on this. Keeping this short:

> I think its possible to use the WOT without publishing your social graph
> publicly.  The keyservers can be used only for keys and revokation, then
> people can exchange local signatures in a p2p fashion without ever publishing
> them to keyservers.  This is very hard to do right now, but it is something
> that can definitely be automated and with little user interaction needed.  I
> hope to work on this as part of PSST this year.

I still think the benefits of publishing signatures outweighs the
anonymity problems. Its a very debatable point though so I think a
solution to this would be to allow the owner of the key to set a flag
that would allow or disallow other people to publish signatures of
their own key. People could only upload signatures for user's that
have allowed it.

If publishing signatures was distributed, what would be the method to
determine who you share you signatures with? Once you share, whats to
stop it from being re-shared? With a keyserver keeping record, I would
think its easier to respect privacy in the matter of publishing

> There is a lot there, I'm wondering if you've condensed what
> you're particular questions are since then?

I'm focusing more on the advantages of having a single (but
decentralized) key-server that is a framework for providing a useful
mapping for any domain. So a server that allows only a single mapping
to exist for each UID of a domain. Allows signatures (with privacy),
requires proofs of control to initially establish a name, and has a
flexible way for dealing with failures (so it is accessible). I think
some remaining questions would be how to look as this from the user's
perspective (independently authenticated > independent WOT path >
exists on server that I sort of trust and have a pinned https
connection too) and how to establish account control among failures
(losing keys, losing account access, dos signups).

> As a kind of aside, I think that the Zooko's triangle analogy is not very
> good.  It does not map the problem very well because it portrays the three
> elements as equally affected by each other, when I think that's clearly not
> the case

Good point. Also, I think by decentralized he might mean having
namespaces with unique identifiers. I think that's achievable in a
decentralized system. So, I wouldn't look into that analogy of the
triangle much more myself :)

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