Robert J. Hansen rjh at
Thu Jan 1 03:30:05 CET 2015

> I don’t agree.

With what?

> Why isn’t the photo ID feature not useful?

I never said it wasn’t.

I said the photo ID feature, *as used within OpenPGP certificates*, isn’t.  There’s a big difference there.

Frankly, the possibility of allowing arbitrarily-sized binary blobs to be attached to OpenPGP certificates scares the ever-living bloody f*ck out of me.  (I try to avoid vulgarity, but I’m using it here to underline just how critical this problem is.)  The keyserver network, as currently configured, is susceptible to a total worldwide denial-of-service attack that can be conducted by just one malicious individual who figures out how to turn the photo ID feature into an attack vector.

I’ve discussed this attack vector on the keyserver mailing list.  The general consensus is that the attack that I’m concerned about is real, and would result in serious disruption to the global keyserver network for an extended period until we developed countermeasures — but those countermeasures would fundamentally transform the keyserver network and force us to radically redefine our expectations of service.

So, yeah.  Photo IDs on OpenPGP certificates is really another way of saying “OpenPGP supports putting arbitrarily-sized binary blobs on certificates that will be replicated worldwide and, depending on local jurisdictions, will immediately convert keyserver operators into felons.”  That’s enough for me to declare the entire OpenPGP implementation of photo IDs a staggering clusterf*ck of failure, and something that I really wish would get dropped from the OpenPGP spec.

(I’m not going into specifics about the attack because I don’t want to give anyone ideas, not in any expectation that it really matters a damn.  My write-up is available, but I’m not going to help you find it.)

> Surely any piece of
> information that would help another person, with whom you
> are proposing to communicate, to identify you first, is a good
> thing.

Sure, but it would be nice if it didn’t expose people to phenomenal risk while we’re at it.

We have better ways of doing photo IDs — e.g.,  I think we should use them.

You’re arguing against something I never said and don’t believe.

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