[Servercert-wg] Discussion Period Begins - Ballot SC-071: Subscriber Agreement and Terms of Use Consolidation

Dimitris Zacharopoulos (HARICA) dzacharo at harica.gr
Sun Apr 21 08:24:14 UTC 2024

On 19/4/2024 9:54 μ.μ., Aaron Gable wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 19, 2024 at 11:07 AM Dimitris Zacharopoulos (HARICA) via 
> Servercert-wg <servercert-wg at cabforum.org> wrote:
>     What happens if the SA/ToS document changes? I had the impression
>     that the ACME client would be able to see the new version and ask
>     that the updated version is accepted. How does this process work
>     in practice?
> The ACME protocol itself only has one mechanism for updating the Terms 
> of Service: respond to all requests with HTTP 403 Forbidden, error 
> type "urn:ietf:params:acme:error:userActionRequired", and a link to a 
> URL where a human can take action to agree to the new terms. Breaking 
> every single ACME client until their operator takes manual action on a 
> webpage is unacceptable and unrealistic, so ACME server operators do 
> not actually do this.

The ACME protocol was designed to support popular use cases promoting 
automation. The level of automation can be decided by the Applicant. For 
example, if an Applicant chooses the dns-01 challenge and wants to 
manually update their DNS server to include the challenge, so be it. 
That doesn't mean that this breaks every single ACME client. It's 
supposed to be a feature, not a bug :-)

My point is that if an Applicant wants to automate the response to a new 
Terms of Service, they can program the ACME client to connect to the 
return URL with the new document, accept it and continue with the request.

> However, this is preceded by one caveat: RFC 8555 Section 7.3.3 says 
> "If the server has changed its terms of service since a client 
> initially accepted, /and the server is unwilling to process a request 
> without explicit agreement to the new terms/, ...".
> So there's an easy path forward: include language in the Subscriber 
> Agreement to the effect of "this agreement may be updated", and always 
> be willing to process requests without explicit agreement to the new 
> terms. At a glance, Let's Encrypt, Google Trust Services, GoDaddy, and 
> HARICA all take this approach in their Subscriber Agreement documents.
> So I think there are two potential issues with the proposed language:
> 1) "The Certificate Warranties specifically include [that]... the 
> Subscriber has been provided with the most current version of the 
> Subscriber Agreement" -- I think this language is /probably/ fine, as 
> long as "posted to the CA's policy document repository" counts as 
> "provided". But I'd prefer not to have to split hairs, and so would 
> prefer language which more clearly makes it obvious that the updated 
> document does not have to proactively be given to each Subscriber 
> individually and that simply posting it to the public repository is 
> sufficient.

In some cases, CAs point to a URL that contains the latest version of 
the Subscriber Agreement, so in one sense the Applicant agrees to that 
-latest- version without the need to see a different URL. The only 
concern here is what happens to implementations where the Applicant 
accepts the Subscriber Agreement at account creation and not at 
Certificate Issuance/Retrieval. In that scenario, the CA would not be 
able to claim that the Applicant has accepted the updated version, right?

> 2) "The Certificate Warranties specifically include [that]... the 
> applicable Subscriber Agreement is the Subscriber Agreement that was 
> accepted when the Certificate was issued" -- Again, this language is 
> probably technically fine, in that the Subscriber Agreement can 
> include language saying that Subscribers are assumed to have accepted 
> future updates to the document. But I'd still prefer not to split 
> hairs, and so I think that Wayne's suggestion of "...that was /in 
> force/ when the Certificate was issued" is a good one.

I also prefer this language but would that address the concern mentioned 

> Unrelated to the discussion above, our Counsel has suggested one other 
> simplification of the language in the ballot: "if the CA and 
> Subscriber are not Affiliated, the Subscriber and CA are parties to a 
> legally valid and enforceable Subscriber Agreement that satisfies 
> these Requirements, or, if the CA and Subscriber are the same entity 
> or are Affiliated, the Applicant Representative has accepted the 
> Subscriber Agreement;" seems unnecessarily wordy. Instead, they 
> suggest just "the Subscriber and CA (even if they are the same entity 
> or are Affiliated) are parties to a legally valid and enforceable 
> Subscriber Agreement that satisfies these Requirements;".

Great improvement indeed!

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