Re: [saag] Liking Linkability

Henry Story <> Fri, 19 October 2012 12:01 UTC

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From: Henry Story <>
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Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2012 14:01:04 +0200
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References: <> <> <201210181904.PAA07773@Sparkle.Rodents-Montreal.ORG> <> <>
To: Ben Laurie <>
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Cc: "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, Sam Hartman <>, "" <>, "" <>
Subject: Re: [saag] Liking Linkability
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On 18 Oct 2012, at 21:29, Ben Laurie <> wrote:

> On Thu, Oct 18, 2012 at 8:20 PM, Henry Story <> wrote:
>> On 18 Oct 2012, at 21:04, Mouse <mouse@Rodents-Montreal.ORG> wrote:
>>>> [...]
>>>> Unfortunately, I think that's too high of a price to pay for
>>>> unlinkability.
>>>> So I've come to the conclusion that anonymity will depend on
>>>> protocols like TOR specifically designed for it.
>>> Is it my imagination, or is this stuff confusing anonymity with
>>> pseudonymity?  I feel reasonably sure I've missed some of the thread,
>>> but what I have seem does seem to be confusing the two.
>>> This whole thing about linking, for example, seems to be based on
>>> linking identities of some sort, implying that the systems in question
>>> *have* identities, in which case they are (at best) pseudonymous, not
>>> anonymous.
>> With WebID ( ) you have a pseudonymous global identifier,
>> that is tied to a document on the Web that need only reveal your public key.
>> That WebID can then link to further information that is access controlled,
>> so that only your friends would be able to see it.
>> The first diagram in the spec shows this well
>> If you put WebID behind TOR and only have .onion WebIDs - something that
>> should be possible to do - then nobody would know WHERE the box hosting your
>> profile is, so they would not be able to just find your home location
>> from your ip-address. But you would still be able to link up in an access
>> controlled manner to your friends ( who may or may not be serving their pages
>> behind Tor ).
>> You would then be unlinkable in the sense of
>> [[
>>      Within a particular set of information, the
>>      inability of an observer or attacker to distinguish whether two
>>      items of interest are related or not (with a high enough degree of
>>      probability to be useful to the observer or attacker).
>> ]]
>> from any person that was not able to access the resources. But you would
>> be linkable by your friends. I think you want both. Linkability by those
>> authorized, unlinkability for those unauthorized. Hence linkability is not
>> just a negative.
> I really feel like I am beating a dead horse at this point, but
> perhaps you'll eventually admit it. Your public key links you.

The question is to whom? What is the scenario you are imagining, and who is
the attacker there?

> Access
> control on the rest of the information is irrelevant. Indeed, access
> control on the public key is irrelevant, since you must reveal it when
> you use the client cert.

You are imagining that the server I am connecting to, and that I have
decided to identify myself to, is the one that is attacking me? Right?
Because otherwise I cannot understand your issue. 

But then I still do not understand your issue, since I deliberately
did connect to that site in an identifiable manner with a global id.
I could have created a locally valid ID only, had I wanted to not 
connect with a globally valid one.

So your issue boils down to this: if I connect to a web site deliberately
with a global identifier, then I am globally identified by that web site.
Which is what I wanted.

So perhaps it is up to you to answer: why should I not want that? 

> Incidentally, to observers as well as the
> server you connect to.

Not when you re-negotiation I think. 
And certainly not if you use Tor, right?

Social Web Architect