Re: [Cfrg] Requesting removal of CFRG co-chair

Yoav Nir <ynir@checkpoint.com> Mon, 23 December 2013 16:09 UTC

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From: Yoav Nir <ynir@checkpoint.com>
To: Tao Effect <contact@taoeffect.com>
Thread-Topic: [Cfrg] Requesting removal of CFRG co-chair
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Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2013 16:09:13 +0000
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Subject: Re: [Cfrg] Requesting removal of CFRG co-chair
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On Dec 23, 2013, at 5:21 PM, Tao Effect <contact@taoeffect.com>;
 wrote:

> On Dec 23, 2013, at 3:57 AM, Robert Ransom <rransom.8774@gmail.com>; wrote:
> 
>> I note that none of the few people who are speaking in defense of
>> Kevin Igoe have even acknowledged the specific acts that Trevor Perrin
>> listed at the beginning of this thread, much less tried to refute the
>> charges or defend Mr. Igoe's acts.
> 
> Excellent observation! Instead of doing that, the response has been that a "witch hunt" is taking place, and that this is all based on "conspiracy".
> 
> And yet, neither of those claims is true.

It sure seems like it. More than one person on this list has stated that this is nothing personal, but an employee of the NSA (one of tens or hundreds of thousands) is automatically disqualified from chairing a working group.

The arguments against him are the kind that are leveled against IETF working group chairs on a regular basis - that they see consensus where consensus does not exist. Such arguments are easy to prove or disprove, because the mailing lists are public. I've seen plenty of arguments about whether the two people + author who liked the proposal vs the one person who asked a question and never replied to the list again constitute "consensus". None of those arguments resulted in a petition to remove the chair. I can only conclude that Kevin is getting special treatment because of his organizational affiliation, which IMO sets a very bad precedent. 

For the sake of argument, I will concede that all the accusations made are true: that (other than Dan) Kevin had the only message to the CFRG list with a favorable opinion of Dragonfly and that he presented that in a private message to the TLS chairs as "CFRG is fine with this algorithm". This could at worst be construed as mismanagement. Yet people present this as a malicious attempt by the USG to subvert the standards process so that people authenticate with a method that leaks timing information?  At the TLS layer or all places. That accusation is baseless and makes no sense for several reasons:
 - Nobody uses passwords at the TLS layer. A PAKE has been defined for years, and it's implemented in the most popular library. Nobody cares (sorry, Dan)
 - If the USG is spending money subverting the standards process to standardize a vulnerable password-in-TLS method, Americans should be worried - it's a monumental waste of their tax dollars.
 - The widespread surveillance that the Snowden documents revealed was all done with no cryptography. It was all done by gaining access to the plaintext or gaining access to keys. The agent trying to sabotage the standards process would not be a cryptographer with an @nsa.gov email. They'd be more surreptitious about it. (yeah, I know - that's what they'd like me to think)

I don't know Kevin personally, and have never exchanged a word or an email with him, but I believe that he is the target of a witch hunt.

Yoav