Re: [Ilc] Welcome to the ILC list

Tao Effect <contact@taoeffect.com> Thu, 16 February 2017 20:14 UTC

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From: Tao Effect <contact@taoeffect.com>
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Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:14:29 -0800
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To: Tom Ritter <tom@ritter.vg>
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Cc: ilc@ietf.org, David Mazieres expires 2017-05-14 PDT <mazieres-55gj72eaqw2pcqj8rgxsi8nvz2@temporary-address.scs.stanford.edu>
Subject: Re: [Ilc] Welcome to the ILC list
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What this group is doing, which is not very clear from its self-description, is the creation of a consensus-based namespace.

The Internet does not currently have consensus-based namespaces.

DNS, for example, does not operate on any real form of consensus.

For this reason, it is also not secure. Anyone who can MITM a network connection, can override apple.com <http://apple.com/> to be anything they want, along with any other name in the insecure, federated ICANN namespace.

A *consensus-based namespace*, on the other hand—as this group and [trans] are proposing—consolidates ownership and definition of the entire namespace to a group that attempts to maintain consensus.

The means by which consensus is achieved *matters a great deal*, but some general statements are possible too.

In the example of Stellar, consensus is restricted to a small cartel, and the protocol's inability to resolve consensus forks means that this cartel will most likely only get smaller over time, since participation requires the _permission_ of the existing cartel. FYI, Stellar's marketing in this department is also highly misleading [1].

What you're left with is a log, and it can be "append-only", but that really doesn't matter much if the proposal is for the /entire Internet/ to use *just* that one log. That is tantamount to a global, Internet takeover by a cartel.

It's important to emphasize: _such a group would have *total power* to decide who is and who is not allowed to have a website._

A consensus-based namespace offers security—but only if it's not a defacto namespace, but one of an arbitrary number of consensus-based namespaces.

- Greg

[1] https://twitter.com/taoeffect/status/832284907342688256 <https://twitter.com/taoeffect/status/832284907342688256>

--
Please do not email me anything that you are not comfortable also sharing with the NSA.

> On Feb 16, 2017, at 10:44 AM, Tom Ritter <tom@ritter.vg <mailto:tom@ritter.vg>> wrote:
> 
> The Gossip protocol (of which I am an author) does not really attempt
> to determine consensus; nor does it attempt to "[agree] on a
> particular value among multiple valid inputs in a distributed system".
> 
> It attempts to expose all valid values (meaning
> has-a-signatures-that-validates) to an Internet-wide group of
> participants. If there's a piece of data, signed by a log, we want to
> show share the data (or a derivative of it) with "The Internet" (for
> some definition of "The Internet") can "The Internet" can review it.
> 
> I suppose, after gossip occurs, there is a consensus mechanism. But
> it's really very simple and mathematically sound. "Given all the
> inputs I have, can I assemble them into a single consistent
> Append-Only Merkle Tree; or not?" There is no participation required
> with anyone else, the 'consensus mechanism' is positively true or
> false for everyone independently. It's the data gathering that's
> tough.
> 
> -tom
> 
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