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Re: [Social-discuss] Announcing P2P GNU Social

From: Blaine Cook
Subject: Re: [Social-discuss] Announcing P2P GNU Social
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2010 13:46:59 +0100

On 10 July 2010 13:26, Ted Smith <address@hidden> wrote:
> It means that if your server (to be precise, your
> core) is cracked, or subpoenaed by the MAFIAA/ACTA-Empowered Sharing
> Police, it can give up no data that you haven't already decided is
> public.
> I don't think that StatusNet GNU Social makes that guarantee, even when
> it comes to private messaging. I would be very happy to be wrong.

It doesn't, though servers are free to encrypt the data before and/or
after it's sent. The same applies for email. Two thoughts:

1. I welcome experiments using P2P networks for social networks, but
consider the human-level usability concerns. No matter what the
underlying technology is, you need a human-level addressing system
(the acid test for a good addressing scheme is the ability for one
person to be able to write down on a scrap of paper an address at
which someone else can contact them later). If you use webfinger (re:
email-like addresses), you can maintain compatibility with mainline
GNU Social,, Diaspora (i.e., OStatus), and Google Buzz
while providing forwards-compatibility to stronger privacy-based

2. Your threat model is incomplete. The data you've shared is private
not until *you* decide it's public, but until *someone you've shared
the data with* decides it's public (or is forced to make it public).
It's certainly true that the approach you describe is *more* secure
than the default approach, but it's important to remember that it's
not *completely* secure. Another way to think about this issue is to
consider what (deployment / payload) approaches provide strong
security over the default (OStatus-esque) approach, providing a local
maximum of utility AND security?


* There are approaches to using DHTs and either webs-of-trust or
bootstrapping methods to provide trusted DNS-independent lookups for
email addresses (and other addresses). See VIPR, MonkeySphere, and
RedPhone for ideas.

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