Re: [rtcweb] usability of IdP concepts in draft-ietf-rtcweb-security-arch-07

Martin Thomson <> Thu, 07 November 2013 00:38 UTC

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Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2013 16:37:51 -0800
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From: Martin Thomson <>
To: Wolfgang Beck <>
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] usability of IdP concepts in draft-ietf-rtcweb-security-arch-07
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On 6 November 2013 16:04, Wolfgang Beck <> wrote:
> Probably not. It depends on the idp and browser settings. I'd rather fix the
> problem than limit the frequency of its ocurrence. Maybe it's as easy as
> having way for  the webrtc server to determine  what attributes the
> idp-proxy is going to request, so it could 'prefetch' it.

There is always a possibility for prefetching user authentication
(with some caveats below).  However, it is only possible to acquire
the assertion after generating an identity assertion.  If you have
done the authentication prior to the call, then the call can proceed
without bothering the user.

The nature of the "log in" experience on the web is highly variable
and flexible.  The class of IdPs that we are talking about currently
use have relatively long-lived authentication cookies, so I would
consider it unlikely that these IdP interactions would require user
interaction, as long as the last login to the IdP - for any reason -
was relatively recent.

For example, if you use Facebook as your IdP and you've been to
Facebook recently, then I'd expect that the IdP would just proceed
maybe after a one-off authorization for the user agent).

And, just in case there is any confusion on the subject, validating an
assertion does not necessarily require that a user log in.  A Facebook
IdP could be used to validate an assertion generated by Facebook,
regardless of whether the relying user is a Facebook user.

The caveat: There is an open question with respect to discovery or
configuration of IdPs.  For what I hope are obvious reasons, we need
to ensure that the identity IdPs are not made public.

That means that an application will be unable to guarantee that a user
is logged in when the call is initiated.  The upshot of that is not so
serious as you might think.  If I read our current discussions
correctly, we are headed toward a situation where calls can be setup
without the identity mechanisms being complete.  (Note to self,
examine trickling identity.)