Re: Hum theatre

Christian de Larrinaga <cdel@firsthand.net> Thu, 07 November 2013 11:54 UTC

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Date: Thu, 07 Nov 2013 11:53:44 +0000
From: Christian de Larrinaga <cdel@firsthand.net>
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To: Randy Bush <randy@psg.com>
Subject: Re: Hum theatre
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Cc: Tim Bray <tbray@textuality.com>, Dave CROCKER <dcrocker@bbiw.net>, IETF Discussion <ietf@ietf.org>
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I watched this in surveillance mode from UK. Sadly I found no humming
feature was available for lurkers! So you missed my rendition of "I
can't get no humin' action" The question session was particularly good
at unpicking some detail of what IETF should look at.

Isn't the most important issue around the end to end through middle
boxes path? Also doesn't this implicate PKI model? I was disappointed
that this hum was judged yes but mixed. (I didn't hear the counter hum
online).  Users should know if they are being proxied in networks and by
whom so they can exert responsibilities to secure their communications.
If the monitoring is legal such as part of compliance legislation then
users need to know if something is not being monitored as that normally
fails compliance requirements. It doesn't matter if that is on a LAN or
VPN or Internet.  So this cuts both ways. Users need some confidence in
what is going on between us.

Quantum cryptography might if I've understood the literature (which I am
far from sure I have) have a role in a new class of protocols that can
offer the opportunity for plug and secure services. The ability to know
if something has been interfered with would seem to have application. So
I was interested that no distinctions between different encryption
methodologies was mentioned as something needing to be explored. (There
was a very brief mention of elliptical curve threats but in a non
informative way).

Is that because this stuff is just really really hard to get one's head
around and so needs drafts to explain and buckets of iced water to keep
the towels wrapped around the head cool or that these developments are
not on the table for the work being considered?

It was I thought a great plenary.


Christian



> Randy Bush <mailto:randy@psg.com>
> 7 November 2013 02:58
>
> the feeling of those present was pretty clear. i am sure folk with too
> much free time on their hands will wrap themselves around process
> epicycles 'til the cows come home. there is a massive amount of work to
> do. let us focus on that.
>
> randy
> Tim Bray <mailto:tbray@textuality.com>
> 7 November 2013 02:50
> You’re entitled to your opinion, but I entirely disagree.  I thought
> each of those made an important point and highlighted some areas where
> consensus is broadly held.  I appreciated Russ’ composition of the
> issues and think he deserves our thanks.
>
>  -Tim
>
>
>
> Dave Crocker <mailto:dhc@dcrocker.net>
> 7 November 2013 02:23
> Folks,
>
> An IETF hum is a method of surveying a group for its views.
> Unfortunately the hums that were taken at the end of this week's IAB
> plenary do not permit any meaningful interpretation.
>
>
> Here's why...
>
> Surveys are extremely sensitive to the phrasing of the questions, the
> phrasing and range of the response choices, the sequencing of the
> questions, and the context of the asking.  Get any of these wrong and
> you can get the wrong information, or even just the appearance of
> information -- that is, misunderstandings -- but nothing actually useful.
>
> A common response to such a concern is "well, at least we'll get some
> answers", but that's like saying "well, at least we'll get some
> noise."  The fact that the noise is misunderstood to be signal does
> not actually make it signal.
>
>
>
> The different phrasings of a question can produce very different
> understandings by responders.  The challenge is to formulate a
> question that is likely to be interpreted similarly amongst responders
> (and the person asking.)  It's also a challenge to ask a question that
> captures something that is actually meaningful (and was intended)
> rather than merely sounding good.
>
> The offered response choices can bias the responses.  A set of choices
> like (Good, Excellent) obviously leaves out (Bad, Don't Care, Don't
> Know.)  Or they can have bias in their phrasing by making some choices
> more or less appealing (Could be better, Excellent), rather than
> equivalent vocabulary in tone (Bad, Good).  So it's a challenge to
> make sure that choices cover the proper range and with equanimity to
> the alternative choices.
>
> A sequence of questions also needs to be carefully orchestrated.  For
> example today's questions took as a given that surveillance is an
> attack.  Due diligence might expect establishing that relationship
> explicitly.  And yes, it is possible that some IETF attendees do not
> see it as an attack.  Another example of sequencing is dealing with
> subtleties and complexities.  For example some anti-surveillance
> mechanisms are certain to defeat popular operational management
> mechanisms.  Do we care about the tradeoffs?
>
> Lastly, environmental context can encourage or discourage candor.
> Examples include the genders of the asker and respondent, any
> relationship they might have, or the presence of others.  Would you
> really provide candid answers about possible problems with your sex
> life when being asked with your partner present?  Amongst a group of
> co-workers?  Your parents?
>
>
>
> The hums asked at the plenary were problematic along each of these lines.
>
> The first question was theatre, essentially making the context
> political.  By way of example, note the difference between what was
> asked:
>
>      The IETF is willing to respond to the pervasive surveillance attack?
>
> which has loaded language with 'pervasive' and 'attack', versus a more
> neutral and purely technical question meant to cover the same basic
> concern:
>
>     The IETF is willing to improve its specifications to be more
> resistant to surveillance?
>
> But this isn't exactly a balanced question either.  By that, I mean
> that the answer really is already known.  A good question is one that
> has a chance of getting some support for each choice.  So perhaps a
> better example would be:
>
>      The IETF is willing to require adding resistance to surveillance
> to all of its protocols?
>
> The questions typically also did not offer "don't know" or "don't
> care" choices.  Some folk probably knew that they don't know enough
> yet, limiting their ability to support the kinds of questions being
> asked.
>
> The IETF's doing anything privacy-related that is useful is going to
> require considering tradeoffs and some of those tradeoffs might reduce
> the utility of a service. So the actual choices that will be made
> might turn out to be quite different from what was implied by the
> dominant answers to the plenary questions.
>
> And lastly, consider carefully the context of the room and ask whether
> everyone actually felt completely free to give a "no" hum to the
> initial questions.  I suggest that the emotions of the room created a
> strong bias against no's.   Maybe not for you.  Maybe not for me.  But
> probably for many of the folk sitting near you.
>
> We now find ourselves with a set of hums that appears to establish a
> direction but which can't survive even basic analysis, as the later
> postings on the ietf mailing list demonstrate.
>
>
>
> Here's what I suggest:  A single, simple, conceptual question that
> supplies all of the 'guidance' we can legitimately offer, at this stage:
>
>      The IETF needs to press for careful attention to privacy
>      concerns in its work, including protection against surveillance.
>
>           [ ]  No
>           [ ]  Yes
>           [ ]  Don't Yet Know
>           [ ]  Don't Care
>
>
>
> d/
>