[cabfpub] For Discussion: S/MIME Working Group Charter

Tim Hollebeek tim.hollebeek at digicert.com
Fri May 18 07:12:22 MST 2018

I’m interested in hearing feedback from the entire forum about what we can pass.


I’m less interested in rehashing old debates and holding this charter hostage to them.


The idea that NetSec is a set of cross-cutting requirements that applies to all working groups has been mentioned many times and has never been controversial, so I’m not sure how it morphed into a fundamental objection.




From: Ryan Sleevi [mailto:sleevi at google.com] 
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2018 10:06 AM
To: Tim Hollebeek <tim.hollebeek at digicert.com>
Cc: CA/Browser Forum Public Discussion List <public at cabforum.org>; Dimitris Zacharopoulos <jimmy at it.auth.gr>
Subject: Re: [cabfpub] For Discussion: S/MIME Working Group Charter




I'm not clear - are you saying that you have no intention of removing the proposal for a separate Network Security document from the S/MIME charter? This is a real and fundamental objection, and I hope I've articulated why it's problematic in a charter, and further, problematic in scope of activities. I'm hoping you can clearly articulate the value, concretely demonstrating why this is an immediate and cross-cutting problem to be solved (and at the potential of conflict with other bits). Your proposal - for example, to split NetSec into a separate CWG - demonstrates how and why it's explicitly unnecessary to include in a draft charter.


If you're not open to suggestions, then it seems the only alternative is to provide a counter-charter proposal, and have a run-off, and that seems like a very silly thing to do, when there's a real opportunity to collaborate here, and that you seem to be outright rejecting without justification.


With respect to the notion of EV for S/MIME, I again reiterate that it's wholly unnecessary to incorporate within the charter. Beyond being a clearly marketing concept - in which it tries to distinguish itself from the existing space - it's something that as a scope of work that, if there is demonstrable value in such levels of validation, it can be incorporated within a BRs. If you can't get a BRs you don't believe is secure for purpose, then you're explicitly stating in the goal of WG is to fail in the mission. Conversely, if you get a BRs that are, then you don't necessarily need an "extended" version.


My take away from these responses is that you're not actually interested in feedback, as I'm trying to give clear and actionable explanations and rationale for these positions. I can understand if you disagree, but is there an opportunity here to collaborate on a sensible baseline, and to address this feedback, or are you setting out a charter that seeks to outright reject concerns that could help us find productive solutions, quicker?


On Fri, May 18, 2018 at 9:25 AM, Tim Hollebeek <tim.hollebeek at digicert.com <mailto:tim.hollebeek at digicert.com> > wrote:

I agree mixing ClientAuth and S/MIME is a bad idea.


NetSec is needed by all WGs.  It’s not getting removed.  Hopefully all WGs will try to to keep their versions and effective dates in sync, to prevent audit pains.  As we’ve discussed several times, the NetSec legacy WG is probably going to convert itself into a top level WG.  It will the approve documents that can be incorporated by other WGs by reference.  Or just used in conjunction with other WG products.


Identity and validation is another important cross-cutting concern.  It isn’t a “pet marketing product”.




From: Public [mailto:public-bounces at cabforum.org <mailto:public-bounces at cabforum.org> ] On Behalf Of Ryan Sleevi via Public
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2018 9:18 AM
To: Dimitris Zacharopoulos <jimmy at it.auth.gr <mailto:jimmy at it.auth.gr> >; CA/Browser Forum Public Discussion List <public at cabforum.org <mailto:public at cabforum.org> >
Subject: Re: [cabfpub] For Discussion: S/MIME Working Group Charter




On Fri, May 18, 2018 at 12:57 AM, Dimitris Zacharopoulos via Public <public at cabforum.org <mailto:public at cabforum.org> > wrote:


On 18/5/2018 2:51 πμ, Ryan Sleevi via Public wrote:

I don't think it's a cross-EKU situation, though, but I'm glad we're in agreement. 


An email server certificate is an id-kp-serverAuth EKU. That's already covered by another WG

I sincerely hope that id-kp-clientAuth EKU will also be covered by this WG since there will be common validation requirements for Subject information, as with S/MIME. It seems too much overhead to spawn an entirely different WG to deal just with clientAuth.

If people agree, how about using the name "Client and S/MIME Certificate WG" which seems aligned with the "Server Certificate WG"?


As I've mentioned several times, it would be good to actually focus on a constrained, defined problem, before you proverbially try to boil the ocean.


It is not obvious that there will be common validation requirements, because the id-kp-clientAuth situation has a vast dimension of possible uses and spectrum. It's not actually reflective of the deployed reality that the validation requirements are the same. It also is based on an entirely separate notion of identity.


So no, I don't agree, because they really are substantially different in deployed reality - and an S/MIME WG is, in itself, a sizable undertaking just to get S/MIME BRs, due to the broad spectrum of client capabilities and CA past-practices - and the lifetime of extant certificates that presents unique challenges to defining a sensible and realistic profile.


A good charter - one that leads to productive engagement from a broad set of participants while actually delivering meaningful improvements - is one that keeps itself narrowly focused on the task at hand, produces results, and then looks to recharter based on the things you knew were out there, but agreed not to discuss until you actually completed the work. That allows you to keep momentum, focus, and participation. Just look at the challenges each of our (legacy) WG has faced with a broad remit, in that the set of topics has made it difficult both to engage participation of the broader Forum and to actually make forward progress, because it's constantly having to deal with 'all these things' or trying to do 'all these things'.


When we see narrowly focused ballots and efforts that try to solve a specific set of problems, then we make progress. The validation WG's effort at is a prime example of that - a prolonged effort that directly benefited from being focused on that problem, and ruling some things (like out of scope of the discussion in order to make progress on the narrow set.


The same too is in the charter. Let's not try to encompass pet marketing projects (EV for S/MIME), "things we might need but we don't know why" (network security), or "things that are kinda related, but only in some domains" (id-kp-clientAuth). Let's focus on the problem at hand - S/MIME authentication - keeping the WG scoped narrowly and on task, and deliver something that can help users have faith in the Web PKI to deliver tangible benefits in that space, rather than the reality we have today.


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