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   Re: [xml-dev] Blended Authentication (AKA "Granular Access Control")

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W. E. Perry scripsit:

> Authenticating a user for access to particular data only within a given
> context means authenticating that user only for someone else's preconception
> or prejudice regarding how that data is to be used or processed. The effect of
> such discrimination is to prevent the uniquely useful processing of data with
> a particular expertise precisely because the creator or custodian of that data
> did not comprehend that expertise a priori and was therefore not competent
> itself to render that particular benefit in processing. Quite simply,
> obviating in the name of security the uniquely useful benefits which truly
> expert processing confers is the choice of a known stupidity over an as yet
> undiscovered enlightenment.

Just so, and yet that may be exactly what we (socially considered) want.
There are some data which arbitrary experts are not fit to be trusted with.

For example, imagine an engine that provides access to raw census data.
Naturally, we wish to confine access to a very limited set of individuals
such as census officials: I don't want you to have access to my census
information, nor vice versa (I suppose).

However, the census system may very well allow a greater degree of access
to trusted aggregators.  These serve the role of Joseph's System A, where
the raw census data engine is System B.  A trusted aggregator may provide
me with access only to 1) my own data, unaggregated and unfiltered, and 2)
census-tract-level aggregations of all data.  To achieve this modularly,
the aggregator can forward in case 1 my credentials along with its own,
and in case 2 it can forward its own credentials merely.  In the latter
case, the aggregator is guaranteeing that it will not leak the raw data
to me.

Similar reasoning shows us why (in the U.S. at least) there is no way to
directly dial the directory-assistance facility in other countries: one
must contact a trusted intermediary here in the U.S., who will pass its
own credentials to the foreign facility.

A rabbi whose congregation doesn't want         John Cowan
to drive him out of town isn't a rabbi,         http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
and a rabbi who lets them do it                 jcowan@reutershealth.com
isn't a man.    --Jewish saying                 http://www.reutershealth.com


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