[apps-discuss] APPS Area review of draft-ietf-oauth-v2-bearer-14

Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net> Thu, 24 November 2011 06:21 UTC

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Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2011 17:21:35 +1100
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Subject: [apps-discuss] APPS Area review of draft-ietf-oauth-v2-bearer-14
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I have been selected as the Applications Area Review Team reviewer for this draft (for background on apps-review, please see <http://www.apps.ietf.org/content/applications-area-review-team>).

Please resolve these comments along with any other Last Call comments you may receive. Please wait for direction from your document shepherd or AD before posting a new version of the draft.

Document: draft-ietf-oauth-v2-bearer-14
Title: OAuth 2.0 Bearer Tokens
Reviewer: Mark Nottingham
Review Date: 24/11/2011

Summary: This draft is almost ready for publication as a Proposed Standard, but has a few issues that should be fixed.

Major Issues

* Section 2.3 URI Query Parameter

This section effectively reserves a URI query parameter for the draft's use. This should not be done lightly, since this would be a precedent for the IETF encroaching upon a server's URIs (done previously in RFC5785, but in a much more limited fashion, as a tactic to prevent further, uncontrolled encroachment).

Given that the draft already discourages the use of this mechanism, I'd recommend dropping it altogether. If the Working Group wishes it to remain, this issues should be vetted both through the APPS area and the W3C liaison.

(The same criticism could be leveled at Section 2.2 Form-Encoded Body Parameter, but that at least isn't surfaced in an identifier)

* Section 3 The WWW-Authenticate Response Header Field

The draft references the quoted-string ABNF from HTTP, but changes its processing in a later paragraph:

"""In all these cases, no character quoting will occur, as senders are prohibited from using the %5C ('\') character."""

This is at best surprising (as many readers will reasonably surmise that using the quoted-string ABNF implies that the same code can be used). Please either use quoted-string as defined (i.e., with escaping).

Minor Issues

* Section 1: Introduction

The introduction explains oauth, but it doesn't fully explain the relationship of this specification to OAuth 2.0. E.g., can it be used independently from the rest of OAuth? Likewise, the overview (section 1.3) seems more specific to the OAuth specification than this document. As I read it, this mechanism could be used for ANY bearer token, not just one generated through OAuth flows. 

If it is indeed more general, I'd recommend minimising the discussion of OAuth, perhaps even removing it from the document title.

* Section 3 The WWW-Authenticate Response Header Field

The difference between a realm and a scope is not explained. Are the functionally equivalent, just a single value vs. a list? 

Do you really intend to disallow *all* extension parameters on the challenge?

Also, the scope, error, error_description and error_uri parameters all specify only a quoted-string serialisation. HTTPbis strongly suggests that new schemes allow both forms, because implementation experience has shown that implementations will likely support both, no matter how defined; this improves interoperability (see p7 2.3.1). 

Finally, the error_description parameter can carry only ASCII characters. While I understand a tradeoff has been made here (and, in my judgement, an appropriate one), it's appropriate to highlight this in review.

* General

The draft currently doesn't mention whether Bearer is suitable for use as a proxy authentication scheme. I suspect it *may*; it would be worth discussing this with some proxy implementers to gauge their interest (e.g., Squid). 


* Section 2.1 Authorization Request Header Field

"simplicity reasons" --> "simplicity"

"If additional parameters are desired in the future, a different scheme could be defined." --> "If additional parameters are needed in the future, a different scheme would need to be defined."

* Section 3 The WWW-Authenticate Response Header Field

The requirement that a resource server MUST include the HTTP WWW-Authenticate response header field is odd; really this is at the discretion of the server. Is it really necessary to use a conformance requirement here?

URI-reference --> URI-Reference

* Section 3.1 Error Codes

405 belongs in the list of typically appropriate status codes as well.

Kind regards,

Mark Nottingham   http://www.mnot.net/