key question

Robert J. Hansen rjh at
Fri Feb 26 04:24:29 CET 2010

On 2/25/10 8:29 PM, Yawar Amin wrote:
> I interpret that word, public, differently. To me just because a key
>  _can_ be made public doesn't mean it automatically _should_.

What in life is automatic, besides death and taxes?

We are not talking about automatic here.  We are talking instead about
what is reasonable and in accordance with the general expectations of
the community.  I've not heard any organized outcry for "DRM on the
honor system", and I've not heard any good arguments for it.  I've heard
a loosely organized outcry for sharing public keys widely, and good
arguments for it.  Based on this, I'm going to follow the community
practice of sharing keys widely, unless there are compelling reasons to
do otherwise.

I suspect most users are in the same boat.

> They may have reason--by looking at signatures on a public keyserver,
> anyone can figure out which people you communicate with securely.

I invite you to look at my key and figure out with whom I communicate
securely.  Looking over the key I use now and the keys I've used in the
past, I don't see any signatures there from people I've traded more than
a handful of secured emails with.  You might think the signatures on
0xFEAF8109 are indicative of something -- but really all that it's
indicative of is that I attended the keysigning party at OSCON 2006.

> How would you like the idea of governments worldwide starting to
> keep tabs on you if one of the people who've signed your key turns
> out to be a criminal, a terror suspect, or a child porn collector?

You *must* be kidding.

Listen, if there's some sociopath who likes raping eleven year olds on
camera, and my name happens to be in his address book, or he happened to
sign my key, or my name is *in any way* connected with his, then yes, I
like the idea of my government coming around to ask me, "do you know
anything about this?"  When it comes to hideous crimes being perpetrated
against children, I kind of support the idea of law-enforcement officers
doing their jobs.

Sure, sure, there are a ton of other more questionable investigations
they could be conducting -- but your examples here are *awful*.

> Uploading a signed public key to the 'net is a sure way of taking 
> away people's freedom to keep their associations private.

If you want to keep your association with someone private, give it a
local (non-exportable) signature.

Exportable signatures are meant for the case where the signer *wants* to
attest to the world their association.

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