Re: [paws] Alissa Cooper's Discuss on draft-ietf-paws-protocol-14: (with DISCUSS and COMMENT)

Vincent Chen <> Wed, 24 September 2014 06:57 UTC

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Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2014 23:57:08 -0700
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From: Vincent Chen <>
To: Alissa Cooper <>
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Subject: Re: [paws] Alissa Cooper's Discuss on draft-ietf-paws-protocol-14: (with DISCUSS and COMMENT)
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Hi Alissa,

On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM, Alissa Cooper <> wrote:

> Hi Vince,
> Thanks. I like the text you added, but I think the bit about
> fingerprinting and the caution to implementations about not over-sharing
> that I had suggested are both important — any reason not to include them
> explicitly?

Sorry I did not respond directly to these points. Here's my train of

1. The whole point of the White Space Database is to give information about
available spectrum at a location. The location has to be precise enough for
the information to be valid. So it seems odd for PAWS to recommend that a
device give imprecise location.

2. While PAWS does indicate that serial number is optional, it is unlikely
that a regulator will make it optional.

In any cases I felt the statements indicating risk of tracking covers
tracking via explicit information provided by the device and via implicit
information derived from fingerprinting.


>> Now that the document is clear that Slave device location and serial
>> number are optional (unless required by a ruleset), I think the remaining
>> task on the above three points is to add a bit of text to Section 10 to
>> explain the potential privacy threats from authorized databases, perhaps as
>> a short paragraph or two at the end of Section 10. Something along these
>> lines (just a suggestion, feel free to reject this entirely or use bits
>> that you like):
>> "In addition to the privacy risks described above, in some cases, users
>> of Master or Slave devices may open themselves up to privacy risks related
>> to the secondary use of PAWS-related information by a database
>> administrator. For example, in situations where rulesets require that
>> Master or Slave devices uniquely identify themselves (via the
>> DeviceDescriptor or DeviceOwner parameters), database administrators may be
>> able to use that information to track connectivity activity over time, or
>> they may share such tracking information with third parties. Where Master
>> or Slave devices choose to provide or are required to provide geolocation
>> information in conjunction with unique device identifiers, this capability
>> may further extent to location tracking. Even where a device does not
>> provide a specific unique identifier, a database administrator may be able
>> to uniquely fingerprint a device based on the combination of other
>> information provided in DeviceDescriptor or DeviceCapabilities parameters.
>> In cases where devices have a choice to not send device-identifying
>> information or geolocation, or to send less granular geolocation (i.e., a
>> region rather than a point), PAWS implementations can reduce the risks
>> associated with secondary use by not sending that information. Where
>> rulesets require this information to be sent, these risks require
>> out-of-band mitigation (e.g., public statements or contractual terms
>> preventing secondary use).”
>> Thanks,
>> Alissa
>>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> = Shepherd write-up=
>>> "An in-depth review by a JSON expert might be useful."
>>> Did that happen?
>> Tim Bray had looked at it before final call.
>>> = Section 1 =
>>> "It opens the door for innovations in spectrum
>>>    management that can incorporate a variety of parameters, including
>>>    user location and time.  In the future, it also can include other
>>>    parameters, such as user priority, time, signal type and power,
>>>    spectrum supply and demand, payment or micro-auction bidding, and
>>>    more."
>>> Time seems to be listed both as a current parameter and a future one,
>>> which is confusing.
>> Agreed. The second "time" should be removed.
>>> = Section 4.4 =
>>> "FCC rules, for example, require that a 'Fixed Device'
>>>    register its owner and operator contact information, its device
>>>    identifier, its location, and its antenna height."
>>> It would be nice to have a citation for the rules referenced here.
>> OK.
>>> = Section 5.1 =
>>> Feel free to ignore this if it's completely misguided, but does altitude
>>> really not matter? Are we sure this protocol won't be re-used for devices
>>> on airplanes trying to find available spectrum? (I note that in RFC 6953,
>>> requirement D.1 specifies that the data model must support "the height
>>> and its uncertainty" -- I have no idea what "the height" means or if it
>>> is related to altitude.)
>> See Section 5.3 on "height" of the antenna. It's separated out, from the
>> "latitude, longitude" specification
>> of GeoLocation. It allows specification with respect to ground level or
>> mean sea level, and is intended
>> for Fixed devices, rather than mobile devices.
>> From the current regulator's perspective, the allowed power for mobile
>> devices is low enough that
>> height does not matter.
>>> = Section 10 =
>>> I agree with Stephen that the database operator should be considered as a
>>> potential adversary from the standpoint of potentially being able to
>>> create a fine-grained database that tracks the locations and spectrum use
>>> patterns of individual devices. That data could certainly be abused.
>> So just listing that as a potential threat and declare that fixing this
>> as out of scope is sufficient?
>> Or do we need to state that Databases MUST not track? I can see how
>> anonymized tracking
>> can be useful for spectrum management in the future, much like anonymized
>> tracking of car locations
>> provide valuable traffic information for navigation systems.
>> --
>> -vince
> --
> -vince