[rfc-i] Signing RFCs

Paul Hoffman paul.hoffman at vpnc.org
Wed Jun 29 09:25:07 PDT 2011

On Jun 29, 2011, at 9:12 AM, Joe Touch wrote:

> 1) the crypto is need as part of how you assure others that the copies made on date Z have not been tampered with or changed

The crypto cannot do that unless we also use a timestamping authority that is trusted by all entities that might ever demand to know about something that happened on date Z. Russ did not suggest that we do that, for what I hope are obvious reasons. See related discussions on the PKIX WG archives over the past decade, with a periodicity of about 18 months.

> 2) the equipment costs are only a very small part of the overall operational expenses; other costs include training, logging, and verification.

Noted. The same costs will be there for signing.

> I wouldn't be surprised if a full-scale "is this doc valid as of date X" archive might end up being a large part of the publication budget, if done to the level expected by law enforcement.

And thus we are not talking about that. We are talking about reducing the pain of responding to subpoenas. If I remember correctly from something someone said a few years ago, the subpoenas the IETF had received were all from civil courts, not "law enforcement".

When a person is deposed about "is this what X looked like at time Z", the person can say whatever they want. "I copied X into a backup near date Z, and here is a copy of that backup" will possibly lead to much shorter testimony than "I digitally signed X around time Z and here is an explanation of that signing technology", particularly if you also need to invoke such things as "and here is the CA that signed my signing key".

--Paul Hoffman

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