Re: [OAUTH-WG] Refresh Tokens

Aiden Bell <> Fri, 12 August 2011 16:05 UTC

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Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 17:05:41 +0100
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From: Aiden Bell <>
To: Torsten Lodderstedt <>
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Cc: OAuth WG <>
Subject: Re: [OAUTH-WG] Refresh Tokens
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In some sense, but it is an indirect consequence of the fact the protocol is
for granting access
without requiring the revealing of user credentials, which in most (but not
all) cases means
hiding the user's identity on the system.

In many cases however, their identity is simply translated/embodied by into
tokens exchanged and
the service using OAuth will expose identity.

Therefore an implicit property is the negotiation of access to resources
without revealing a
user's identity ... but identity goes well beyond login credentials in most
useful systems.
Even then, you can use OAuth with login credentials (in native apps etc)
(4.3) to authenticate.

Because "identity" and "anonymity" may possibly be implemented using OAuth
doesn't mean
that it is an explicit design feature in OAuth itself.

I think it is very dangerous to go down this route, as bringing explicit
anonymity into the mix
will confuse the purpose and scope of OAuth, when anonymity is a restriction
on some system
using OAuth.

I don't see OAuth as being anymore a system with anonymity properties than
say, my web browser.
Depends on how you use it; entirely.

Aiden Bell

On 12 August 2011 16:10, Torsten Lodderstedt <>wrote:

> OAuth allows a client to access user resources without revealing the
> resource owner's identity to the client. Isn't this anonymity? I consider
> this an important property of the protocol.
> regards,
> Torsten.
> On Thu, 11 Aug 2011 21:00:54 -0400, Barry Leiba wrote:
>> This seems to need a chair to step in.  Tony is taking a strong stand
>> and maintaining it:
>> On Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 1:40 PM, Anthony Nadalin
>> <> wrote:
>>> Nowhere in the specification is there explanation for refresh tokens, The
>>> reason that the Refresh token was introduced was for anonymity. The
>>> scenario
>>> is that a client asks the user for access. The user wants to grant the
>>> access but not tell the client the user's identity. By issuing the
>>> refresh
>>> token as an 'identifier' for the user (as well as other context data like
>>> the resource) it's possible now to let the client get access without
>>> revealing anything about the user. Recommend that the above explanation
>>> be
>>> included so developers understand why the refresh tokens are there.
>> So far, though it's been only half a day, I've seen several posts
>> disagreeing with Tony, and none supporting any change to the text for
>> this.  We're close to ending WGLC, so please post here if you agree
>> with Tony's suggested change.  Otherwise, it looks like consensus is
>> against.
>> Barry, as chair
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