[OAUTH-WG] Review of draft-ietf-oauth-dyn-reg-16

Hannes Tschofenig <hannes.tschofenig@gmx.net> Wed, 23 April 2014 13:12 UTC

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Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:08:07 +0200
From: Hannes Tschofenig <hannes.tschofenig@gmx.net>
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Subject: [OAUTH-WG] Review of draft-ietf-oauth-dyn-reg-16
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Hi all,

here are a few comments regarding the draft-ietf-oauth-dyn-reg-16 spec.
The first two are editorial and a matter of taste.

- Abstract

The abstract is awfully short. Could you at least add a few more lines
to tell the reader what to expect in the document?

- Introduction

I believe the problem statement in the introduction section could be a
bit clearer. I would phrase the story as follows: today client software
developers need to manually interact with a deployment organization to
obtain relevant parameters for their client software and/or to provide
meta-data about it. This can be time-consuming. This document provides a
mechanism for dynamically provisioning this information.

- Terminology

Please avoid RFC 2119 language in the terminology section. I also
believe it is unnecessary, for example in the client instance definition.

There is a bit of inconsistency in the terminology when I look at the
client software - client instance and the software api publisher -
software api deployment relationship. I would have expected to see
software api instance - software api publisher.

It might help readers to provide a few examples to show typical

For example, a social network site (=deployment organization) develops
their own social network software and makes it available to application
developers. They are also a software API publisher and use OAuth to
protect access to the data. A software developer writes a client
software for use with the social network site and distributes different
client instances to smart phones.

I wonder whether it would make sense to use a different name for the
'initial access token', such as registration token to make it easier to
differentiate it from a regular access token. (Later in my review I will
argue that this access token is a bit strange...)

In the text you use the term 'client' but the terminology section only
defines 'client instance' and 'client software'. Does the term 'client'
refer to 'client software'?

- Protocol Flow

In Figure 1 you show the client and the developer in the same box. The
protocol defined in the specification clearly runs between a client and
client registration endpoint at an authorization server. So, I would
suggest to put the developer (which is a human) outside the box and to
draw another box around the client registration endpoint to indicate
that this is part of the authorization server.

- Section 2

What exactly does this sentence mean?

   Authorization servers MUST accept all fields in this list.

I believe I cannot mean that the authorization server supports all

You write:

   Client metadata values can either be communicated directly in the
   body of a registration request, as described in Section 4.1, or
   included as claims in a software statement, as described in
   Section 3.  If the same client metadata name is present in both
   locations, the value in the software statement SHOULD take

It might be worthwhile to note that the two options exist to allow (a)
the client to suggest values and (b) to have the organizing issuing the
software assertion to provide further values.

Regarding the SHOULD in the last sentence I guess it might make more
sense to just say that it is deployment dependent what policy is used.

- Section 2.1

You write:

As such, a server supporting these fields
   SHOULD take steps to ensure that a client cannot register itself into
   an inconsistent state.

Any guidance on how the authorization server would do that?

- Section 3

I don't understand this sentence:

  In some cases, authorization servers MAY choose to accept a software
   statement value directly as a Client ID in an authorization request,
   without a prior dynamic client registration having been performed.

Does this mean that the client id is the software statement or that the
software statement is embedded in the client id or something else?

- Section 4

The story around the initial access token is a bit strange. Here is the

   The client registration endpoint MAY be an OAuth 2.0 protected
   resource and accept an initial access token in the form of an OAuth
   2.0 [RFC6749] access token to limit registration to only previously
   authorized parties.  The method by which the initial access token is
   obtained by the registrant is generally out-of-band and is out of
   scope for this specification.  The method by which the initial access
   token is verified and validated by the client registration endpoint
   is out of scope for this specification.

First, the term 'registrant' is used here for the first time. Then, it
is outside the scope of how the client got this initial access token.
Normally for access tokens the client does not have to care about the
content and does not verify anything but here the last sentence hints to
the verification (although it is outside the scope of how it is used).

I am curious whether the software assertion could actually be re-use
here in case the unauthorized use of the registration by clients is a

- Section 4.2

You write:

 This client identifier MUST be
   unique at the server and MUST NOT be in use by any other client.

This is a bit unclear given the text you provide in the subsequent
section, Section 5.1.
You write:

  client_id  REQUIRED.  Unique client identifier.  It MUST NOT be
      currently valid for any other distinct registered client.  It MAY
      be the same as the Client ID value used by other instances of this
      client, provided that the Redirection URI values and potentially
      other values dictated by authorization server policy are the same
      for all instances.

You write:

If a software statement was used as part of the registration, its
   value SHOULD be returned in the response and its value MUST be
   returned if the authorization server supports registration management
   operations [OAuth.Registration.Management] that would require its
   presence in subsequent operations.

I am not sure I understand that. Are you saying that the software
assertion is returned in the response from the authorization server to
the client? Why is that?

- References

I believe you should delete the dependency on the registration
management specification.