[Freedombox-discuss] FOAF+SSL concerns

Henry Story henry.story at bblfish.net
Thu Jun 23 21:01:08 UTC 2011

On 23 Jun 2011, at 22:02, Erik Harmon wrote:

> Hi, my first message here.
> There has been some talk of using FOAF+SSL. It seems like a good
> system for many purposes, and I do believe it should be included, but
> I have some concerns. The WebID concept looks tied to DNS and by
> extension, hierarchical namespace.

WebID is in fact general enough that it does not require DNS. 
I proposed an httpk URL namespace in the following e-mail to this list illustrate how this could be done.


I referred to that thread in the "WebID and Browsers" paper presented at the 
W3C Workshop on Identity in the Browser last month.


We put a lot of energy together then putting together the following videos for 
that conference and the Federated Social Web (don't like the 'federated' myself)
earlier this month.

The short videos are available here in ogg and other open formats


I hope that the httpk idea tied in with the realisation that the Web is a built as a declarative peer to peer architecture will allay your fears. We are just using whatever tools we have to gain a foothold initially. DNS is quite widely distributed and very widely available, and we can use that to our advantage to solve even bigger problems, such as total centralisation of everything on servers with the same intials as this mailing list.


> This presents a few problems, first
> that Freedomboxes, at least some of them, are going to be organized in
> a non-hierarchical organization of connected pods or web of trust. If
> the user chooses to delegate their WebID url, they are going to be
> reliant on a third party, which is what FreedomBox is trying to avoid.
> If they want to host their webid on their Freedombox, they are going
> to be obligated to join a hierarchical and probably public namespace.
> Tying to IP isn't practical, as most of these are going to be on a
> dynamic IP.
> While FOAF+SSL is very appropriate for many users, FreedomBox owners
> that wish to create discreet private connections (friends-only
> networks, or perhaps activists) shouldn't have to rely on it. Not
> saying the FreedomBox will, but I believe that should be kept in mind.
> I believe it should be carefully considered before making any services
> necessarily dependent on it.
> Also, I see there has been some discussion in the past on the FOAF+SSL
> mailing list regarding using DNS. The conclusion seemed to be that if
> you are running on the public Internet, DNS is just how you navigate
> it. While this is reasonable, this is a technical conclusion, and the
> FreedomBox has different goals. First off it probably shouldn't be
> dependent on an outside, centralized naming authority anywhere, and
> secondly that recent events have shown us that DNS names are
> susceptible to political wrangling, like DNS rerouting, national
> blocks on domains and US government seizure of domain names. I see
> this as a real problem for FreedomBox owners (I personally like the
> term "owner" rather than consumer or user.)
> I wanted to bring this up and see if the group has anything to say on this.
> Thanks,
> Erik
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