key question

Paul Richard Ramer free10pro at
Mon Mar 8 06:35:08 CET 2010

MFPA wrote:
> On Saturday 6 March 2010 at 8:55:48 AM, you wrote:
>> On Sat, 27 Feb 2010 03:52:02 +0000 MFPA wrote:
>>>> (b) the person owns the information has the right to
>>>> control how it is disseminated, and
> This was someone's re-interpretation of my point. Spot the extra ">"?

Hello MFPA,

I never asserted that you said the key's originator owned the
information stored in the key.  I was quoting the context of what your
reply about the originator having "some rights" was about.  I would
never try to insert words into your mouth.

>>> The data subject does have various rights concerning the personal
>>> information that is about him.

This is the reply you gave to Robert J. Hansen.  I have asked about what
you believe the limit of the "rights" of the originator is.  I didn't
ask this because I am trying to twist your words to make it seem as
though you believe that the originator has a right by law to prevent the
key holder from disseminating it.  I used this quote, because I believe
that it states, in your own words, what you have been saying, either
directly or by implication, during this whole discussion thread.

> The concept of *owning* your personal information makes little sense.
[snipped the rest of the paragraph]

You have began by answering a question that I never asked.  I have only
asserted that you believe that the originator has "some rights".  I
never used the word "own".  I used the word "rights".

> Exactly as far as everything else that would fall under the basic
> right to privacy (described in Article 8 of the European Convention of
> Human Rights as "the right to respect for private and family life").
> The OECD's "Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder
> Flows of Personal Data" is a slightly more international view.
> The use, storage or dissemination of personal information is the
> subject of specific laws in many places, as mentioned above and linked
> from earlier in the thread.
> I'm referring to the personal information that is often present in key
> UIDs. Others may wish to extend similar discussion to cover the key
> ID/fingerprint, which I view as problematic. The key ID/fingerprint is
> not personal information in and of itself. But if the key is on a
> server, the de facto standard for key UIDs leads to, in most cases,
> personal information being revealed to anybody in possession of the
> key ID.

Really, I am not interested in talking about what the law says.  The law
may be right, or the law may be wrong.  I don't want to know what the
law thinks, I want to know what you think.

>> You say that the key's originator should control the dissemination
>> of the key to the keyserver,
> (I would point out that other opinions are available and have been
> shared in this thread. Also, the conditional "should" is important
> since anybody in possession of the key has the *ability* to upload it
> whether they "should" or not.)

I know what the others have said--I have read every posting in this
thread.  As for "should", I intentionally chose that word.

> I say that if the key's originator does not disseminate said key to
> said keyserver, nobody else is in a legitimate position to make that
> decision on their behalf. If the originator actively *wanted* their
> key to be on that server (or network of servers), they would probably
> have uploaded it there.
> The originator may have been unaware of that server's existence. They
> may simply have taken no action regarding keyservers. They may have
> considered a particular keyserver (or network) and made a decision
> that they did not want their key on it. They may not want their key on
> any keyserver. The point is, without referring to the key originator,
> a third party cannot know their intentions and should not have the
> arrogance to presume.
> The OpenPGP standard and GnuPG can both be seen to concede that the
> key originator could have some say in the matter: the
> "keyserver-no-modify" flag was defined quite a while ago in RFC 2440
> as meaning "the key holder requests that this key only be modified or
> updated by the key holder or an administrator of the key server," and
> has long been set by default in GnuPG. Unfortunately, I don't see
> evidence that any keyservers honour this flag.

For the record, I don't believe that the key holder should upload the
key if the key's originator doesn't want the key in some public venue
(forget the keyservers, it's about public availability).  But I don't
believe the originator has a /right/ to prevent the key holder from
sharing it.

>> but what about from the keyserver?  Isn't the keyserver unwittingly
>> sharing the key without the originator's permission?
> Difficult to answer.

Good.  I accomplished my goal of making you think about your position. :-)

> Say, for example, I was to print out your photograph, name, address,
> phone number, etc. and display it on a public noticeboard in the
> church. Would you consider that the noticeboard was unwittingly
> sharing your personal information without permission? Or am I solely
> at fault? Or does the church share some blame?

I don't believe the keyserver (or the church) is responsible for
another's actions.  But I wanted to see whether you thought the
keyserver should be responsible.

>> And if the keyserver should control dissemination, what are the
>> limits of the originator's "rights"?
> I don't believe the keyservers should restrict dissemination of keys
> once they are admitted to the server.
> I believe servers should perform some sort of originator-verification
> before listing fresh or updated keys with the keyserver-no-modify flag
> set (including where set on the existing but not the updated copy).
> Where keyservers synchronise, there would need to be a way of passing
> on the originator-verification result along with the updated key.
> If a user makes the conscious decision to allow indiscriminate
> publishing/updating of their key, unsetting the keyserver-no-modify
> flag should achieve this. If they already uploaded it to the servers
> with that flag set, they would need to pass the
> originator-verification one last time to propagate the change.

The only problem that I can see with the keyserver preventing any
modification of the originator's key, is that it could prevent someone
else from ever revoking their signature on the originator's key.  That
would be, of course, if absolutely no modification is allowed.

>> If the originator does have "rights" to control copying and sharing, are
>> there any "fair use rights" for the person who has a copy of the public
>> key?  Should these "rights" of the originator be enforced by some
>> governing body, or should they be merely courtesy or suggestion?
> I am not advocating anything remotely equivalent to copyright
> provisions, just protection of personal information.

The "rights" that you are asserting are similar to copyrights.  They
both restrict the copying and dissemination of the information
associated with them.  So if the key holder can't ethically (not talking
about physically) share the key or modify it, then what "rights" does
the key holder have?

> As with all other situations where you give somebody your personal
> information, it depends on the circumstances. In the context of
> family/friends/casual acquaintances, we are simply talking about
> trust, courtesy, honour, etc. In the case of a business relationship
> where the individual provides personal information for a particular
> purpose, the standard privacy/data protection laws apply in addition.
> Note again that I am talking about the personal information attached
> to the key, not the key itself. This could all be avoided if an option
> were available to create UIDs which revealed no personal information,
> but which still enabled somebody who knew your email address to
> retrieve your key from a server. See
> and
> and

Your purpose for keyservers and my purpose for keyservers are different.
 I believe that keyservers should be for the public dissemination of
keys.  You believe that keyservers should be for the private
dissemination of keys.

What /you/ want is a keyserver that you can upload publicly and share
privately.  I want is a keyserver that I can upload publicly and share

Remember that they are called public keyservers.  And like a public
restroom, they can be used by deviant and saint alike.

You shouldn't assail the public keyservers.  You should be calling for
an additional kind of keyserver to fill the niche of people like you.


New Windows 7: Double the DRM, Double the fun! Learn more:

| PGP Key ID: 0x3DB6D884                                              |
| PGP Fingerprint: EBA7 88B3 6D98 2D4A E045  A9F7 C7C6 6ADF 3DB6 D884 |

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 665 bytes
Desc: OpenPGP digital signature
URL: </pipermail/attachments/20100307/d8bd960f/attachment-0001.pgp>

More information about the Gnupg-users mailing list