[Standards] e2e privacy for XMPP Re: RFC 3923 (e2e with S/MIME) and OpenPGP

Jeremie Miller jeremie at jabber.org
Wed Nov 20 01:14:23 UTC 2013

Carlo, I happen to working very hard on something that sounds almost
exactly like what you're describing called telehash for many of the reasons
you express, and once it's a little more functional I have a strong desire
to demonstrate it working very compatibly/naturally with XMPP, of course :)

On Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 4:30 PM, Carlo v. Loesch <CvL at mail.symlynx.com>wrote:

> Oh.. I didn't receive some of the messages.. probably originating
> from Andreas.. strange. Again a multi-reply to avoid clogging the
> mailing list:
> On Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 01:27:29PM -0700, Peter Saint-Andre wrote:
> > Hi Carlo!
> > I need to spend some quality time with your long message, but I don't
> > have time for that right now. One quick point...
> lol! Hi Peter, was a pleasure meeting you this summer.
> > As you might remember, the original Jabber community was focused on
> > code but also on defining and documenting an open protocol. There were
> > no corporate interests pushing agendas (although some of the jabberd
> > developers had some support from Webb Interactive Services), just
> > coders making sure that clients and servers could interoperate.
> The stuff I wrote wasn't specifically addressed, especially not
> at early Jabber. I know well that it was all created with best
> intentions. I wasn't happy about the choice of a document syntax
> for a messaging protocol, but the only thing I *really* complained
> about was the lack of providing a distribution strategy for larger
> recipient groups. I was just echoing basic things any IRC developer
> knows concerning multicast, but the Jabber community didn't believe
> the problem exists. So even today it's a problem to have more than
> a hundred friends on a federated XMPP network, then try to do social
> networking with them. The more time passed, the harder it got to
> tackle the problem, because by then there were companies earning
> money by selling scalable XMPP server solutions - a federation that
> actually scales properly would be detrimental to their business.
> Even if this maybe isn't how it actually went, it is a reason more
> why having corporations in the mix is bad for freedom. They can have
> an interest in blocking technologies from getting better, and they
> might be getting away with it by smart rhethoric and convincing
> representatives. This time however they are putting our civil liberties
> at risk, so we need to prioritize. Companies should be *users* of the
> Internet, not *owners.* But currently they are owning the majority of us.
> Again I'm not talking about the small players on this mailing list
> working to bring some earnings back home.
> > I think we need three things: open source, open standards, and an open
> > community. In fact I wrote an article about it way back in 2003:
> Back in 2003 I probably agreed, but by now I understand what Richard
> Stallman says when he's against "open" and underlines the necessity
> of "free." I need no open source, no open standards, no open community.
> I want free software, free hardware and a free community. May sound
> similar but the political differences are actually big and the
> repercussions are being felt since June.
> > But these days the threat model has changed and I think we need to go
> > beyond merely "open" to "trusted". Yes, trust is a slippery concept,
> > but in my mind it's connected to things like hardware (e.g., PNRGs),
> > build processes, transparency of releases, community governance,
> > software that does what the user intends and no more, etc. This is
> > something bigger than any particular technology, so this list might
> > not be the best place to discuss it. Maybe a blog post or new
> > discussion venue is in order...
> You just described what #youbroketheinternet is about.
> Somebody wrote:
> >> In case others are not yet aware: #youbroketheinternet is not only
> >> explicitly opposed to federation but not even interested in
> >> interoperability with federated communication networks.
> This reminds me of a word that I learned on this list years ago.. "snarky"
> I presume it is Mr Kuckartz writing, correct? For some odd reason I didn't
> get this mail.
> Anyway - it's a question of user expectation. You can't tell your
> grandpa that this is the first software that actually implements your
> constitutional right of secrecy of correspondence.. unless you add a
> friend via XMPP that happens to have her account on Google. It's too
> complicated. If you want to talk to people on Google use whatever tools
> you want to use - don't mix it up with a system that is supposed to
> give you completely different degree of privacy - and uses completely
> different technology to achieve that - so there is no technological
> advantage in supporting XMPP or SMTP anyway. It would be an add-on that
> breaks user expectations. No good.
> But if you look at the http://youbroketheinternet.org/map you can see
> several federation technologies in the upper right corner. Why? Because
> their expertise at designing web interfaces for social networking is
> still very welcome. We just need to replace the networking engine
> underneath. Hey, it even mentions Buddycloud. They just need to see
> that XMPP is not the future neither for the necessary privacy nor for
> the necessary scalability to achieve what they intend to achieve: be
> a serious competition to Facebook.
> On 11/19/2013 08:56 PM, Philipp Hancke wrote:
> > There is the hypothesis that any federated network tends to cluster
> > around a number of large nodes. E.g. for XMPP this would be gmail,
> > jabber.org, jabber.ccc.de (applause to their efforts on making
> > themselves unreliable!), ...
> I don't think it's their fault if the entire hacker community currently
> uses OTR on a single point of failure because it is safer than having
> XMPP federation in-between.
> > Interdomain federation is hard, especially delivering the same user
> > experience as between users on the same domain.
> Yes.
> On 11/19/2013 09:04 PM, Hannes Tschofenig wrote:
> > What you end up having is silos that typically consist of proprietary
> > technology with limited usability for the wider Internet user community.
> RetroShare isn't exactly a silo. Everyone has her own node.
> Also Bitmessage, Pond, Cables, Susimail, Nightweb, Syndie.
> Actually Skype operated quite similarly in the first years until it
> was bought by ebay. And of course it doesn't really count since it's
> closed source - but they pioneered the DHT architecture for something
> else but file sharing.
> Looks like you are not familiar with the power of the DHT concept.
> It's a gamechanger. It replaces DNS, X.509 and the necessity to organize
> things in a federation instead of among equal peers. You can still have
> a server backbone, but it doesn't need to know anything about you...
> I was a proponent of the federation concept from 1990 up to ~2007. PSYC
> had an url-based federation strategy for addressing since 1995 - back then
> the idea was revolutionary compared to IRC which is oligarchic, not
> federated. Around 2007 I started understanding the power behind Tor,
> GNUnet and co. It actually took me years to fully grasp it - so deep is
> the paradigm shift. Only the DHT can withstand the dominance of the cloud -
> federation can't (and anyone who thinks federation and the cloud are
> working
> together has accepted that federation isn't functioning properly - there
> should
> be no large clouds of ownership by single companies).
> > The benefits of XMPP are interoperability, the open standards process,
> > and the large number of XMPP providers you can choose from. If you don't
> > like one located in the US then pick it from some other country. If
> > don't like any of them setup your own.
> You list things that I don't see as being beneficial. I already explained
> why interoperability and standards aren't helpful to deal with the current
> challenge to our intimacy. The idea of having to choose a provider is
> terrible. You should be able to be a free participant by yourself, the way
> you can, thanks to DHT technology. And the idea that choosing another
> provider
> keeps your data away from the evil ones is illusory since all your friends
> are either on Google or Facebook. I probably thought the same way a decade
> ago, but now I know it is all wrong. Or rather.. back then I didn't realize
> there was a better solution to the problem.
> On 11/19/2013 09:12 PM, Peter Saint-Andre wrote:
> > On 11/19/13 12:56 PM, Philipp Hancke wrote:
> >> There is the hypothesis that any federated network tends to
> >> cluster around a number of large nodes. E.g. for XMPP this would be
> >> gmail, jabber.org, jabber.ccc.de (applause to their efforts on
> >> making themselves unreliable!), ...
> >
> > This is true even of unfederated networks (Facebook, Twitter,
> > LinkedIn, Skype, the current crop of cool new mobile chat apps). My
> > hypothesis: human beings are herd animals and prefer to flock together
> > in large numbers. "Are you on hot-new-service-X?" It's much easier to
> > think and act that way than to strike out on your own.
> No, I think it's in a wrong assumption of the federation principle,
> that you can trust your university, your company or your boyfriend
> better. Most people don't have any reason to trust anyone, so they
> pick what is likely to have the least interest in them personally - that's
> usually a large silo offering. See also http://secushare.org/federation
> The solution to the dilemma is to give them a software in their hands
> that does everything by itself in a fully distributed manner. No need
> to choose a server. No centralization effects.
> > Some argue that this is all a waste of time and that it would be more
> > productive to start again (as Carlo says, redesign the entire stack).
> Sorry if you catch me nodding here. And believe me it wasn't easy to
> give up a marvellous piece of federation technology such as the psyced
> server - but it no longer satisfies MY needs for digital intimacy.
> I still use it, as in my eyes it's the least bad, and fippo still works
> on its cutting edge XMPP S2S capabilities (thank you!) - but I really want
> to be on a different planet with a distributed untraceable unlinkable
> authority-free communication system. And it is no longer sci-fi. The
> prototypes are already out there.
> > I have a great deal of sympathy with that attitude, and I do think
> > that eventually we'll need to replace a lot of what we have now (even
> > at the physical and link layers, e.g., more open hardware, wireless
> > mesh links instead of centralized ISPs). But this is going to take a
> > long time, and until we have more of that built out IMHO we need to do
> > what we can to better secure the current generation of federated
> > technologies.
> The problem is that I hear 90% of the people say something like this...
> that is there are 90% working to maintain the status quo and only 10%
> working on getting the new solutions off the ground.... of a 100% of
> people that are sufficiently competent to do anything at all...
> At a point in time when the new solutions only need 10% of the work to get
> started compared to the 90% of work it takes to maintain the old things.
> And the news remind us daily of the reasons why we should act instead
> of spending time on insufficient tools.
> But history repeats itself. When the first cars were developed, 90% of
> the engineers where probably focused on refining the efficiency of horse
> carriages.
> > Let the conversation continue... :-)
> :-)
> On 11/19/2013 09:42 PM, Philipp Hancke wrote:
> > Yeah, http://vimeo.com/77257232 talks about that -- and the lack of open
> > products.
> Oh yeah, Aral is great. Don't always agree with the conseguences but
> I love his analysis.
> > I do think that webrtc gives us a good chance to move the baseline
> > experience from basic IM + presence to rich federation. And heck, we've
> > got some movement here ;-)
> I think WebRTC is just the Web 3.0 - it's the same hype we had back when
> AJAX was introduced. AJAX would make the entire web super interactive..
> which it *did* .. and yet the way it is used the most is as a surveillance
> system built into Facebook.
> WebRTC *does* allow every website to do all kinds of funky P2P things, but
> as long as there is no DHT technology in the mix, servers get to decide
> who you are and if you are allowed to have an end-to-end encrypted exchange
> with somebody else. And for the majority of users that server will have
> Google
> in its domain name. In five or so years we'll hate WebRTC because it killed
> the last remaining reasons for people to install custom software, so they
> can
> fully give up on privacy and have Faceboogle manage ALL of their computing
> needs.
> Let's hope I'm wrong this time.
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