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[liberationtech] W3C WebCrypto Last Call for Comments *today*

Anders Rundgren at
Wed May 28 07:31:46 PDT 2014

I don't have much to offer regarding the algorithm issues but I believe
my 15Y+ with (mainly unsuccessful) security standardization efforts
have given me at least a perspective on this.

There are no entirely objective and honest persons around.
We all have something to defend like "professional relevance",
our employer's legacy systems, and last but not least our egos.

The W3C also have another objective: keeping their big members
happy since they pay their salaries.

In addition, people have rather different personalities making
it hard getting a reasonable climate for open discussions.

I once complained to Linus Torvalds that Linux lacked cryptographic
architecture and he said he had given up on that since security-
people never agree on anything.  I think he is right :-(


On 2014-05-28 15:28, carlo von lynX wrote:
> Sorry libtech, some of the in-between mails were not forwarded
> to you.
> On Wed, May 28, 2014 at 02:21:55PM +0200, Anders Rundgren wrote:
>> Asking for "consensus" on anything security-ish under these
>> circumstances is simply put impossible.
> That's because you can't build consensus if some participants
> have an interest on dominating over others. The method of
> consensus requires the group to remove such elements in order
> to be able to work out a consensus which is best for the group -
> and in this case the consensus must be privacy for humanity,
> not security business models for companies or obligations to
> their respective governments.
> So the mistake in the method you are applying is well-researched
> and has an answer. Issues concerning basic constitutional rights
> of citizen must not be defined by a standards body open to
> entities and elements with incompatible interests.
> Thus, Webcrypto CANNOT be reasonably be brought forward by
> either W3C or IETF.  q.e.d.
>> Following the logic in your reasoning, you should list all the
>> algorithms that should be deprecated.  I'm not a cryptographer
>> but I'm quite familiar with security protocols and that's where
>> things go really wrong.  If you take a peek in the IETF-TLS
>> list you will get an idea of the complexity building secure
>> protocols.
> That is a fallacy. Negotation is a bug. GNUnet comes with one
> wise choice of a cipher. Should a sufficiently relevant new
> cipher be invented, GNUnet will have a transition period -
> but that's it. No backwards compatibility humbug forever.
>> BTW, I'm not a member of the WebCrypto WG but I mentally support
>> the work anyway.  If somebody comes up with a better mousetrap
>> I don't think anybody will object :-)
> That's why you are perpetuating this debate which is VERY
> much not in the interests of the W3C members. I like it.
> Thank you for letting Eleanor's and my voice be heard.
>> There were requests fora high-level API that would hide the
>> complexity as well as always using the "best" algorithms.
> Oh that's easy.. you can look at NaCl or EthOS for inspiration.
>> It was rejected and IMO on correct grounds because there
>> would be endless discussions on how such a thing would work
>> and in the end nobody would be happy anyway.
> It is totally among the duties of the advanced lobbyist to
> know how to gently and delicately break consensus processes.
> Of course a consensus could be found, but only among honest
> participants. If you weren't successful, this is by today's
> knowledge on democracy research a proof that your work has
> been undermined by at least one participant who had no
> interest in achieving consensus.
> Or did you expect secret services would walk into the
> working group meetings armed with machine guns and coerce
> everyone into stopping to work on reasonable crypto
> technologies for the masses?

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