Gentoo Archives: gentoo-project

From: "Michał Górny" <mgorny@g.o>
To: gentoo-project@l.g.o
Subject: Re: [gentoo-project] [RFC pre-GLEP r1] Identity verification via OpenPGP WoT
Date: Tue, 05 Mar 2019 08:05:32
In Reply to: [gentoo-project] [RFC pre-GLEP] Identity verification via OpenPGP WoT by "Michał Górny"

Here's -r1.  Changes:

- Included more explanation of cert levels.

- Allowed more secure forms of key verification than fingerprint (after
all, fingerprint is SHA-1 of key material).

- Allowed any secure channel for key exchange, with paper staying
the recommendation.

- Added a section with command-line options matching the spec.

GLEP: 9999
Title: Identity verification via OpenPGP WoT
Author: Michał Górny <mgorny@g.o>
Type: Standards Track
Status: Draft
Version: 1
Created: 2019-03-04
Last-Modified: 2019-03-05
Post-History: 2019-03-04
Content-Type: text/x-rst

This GLEP proposes establishing a non-obligatory, distributed identity
verification procedure that is compatible with OpenPGP web of trust.  It
could be used whenever an explicit need for verifying the real name
occurs, enforced on groups of developers with elevated privileges
via a separate policy or serve as guidelines for building web of trust.
Three methods of verifying the identity are proposed: face-to-face,
via webcam or via government-controlled identification services.

GLEP 76 (Copyright Policy) specifies that all commits made to Gentoo
repositories must include a sign-off with a person's real name.
However, it does not specify any particular method of verifying it.
It is a standing policy that it is sufficient for contributor to
acknowledge the legitimacy of the provided name.  [#GLEP76]_

At the same time, developers are asked not to accept contributions
if they have justified concerns as to the authenticity of the name
provided.  In particular, this could happen if the developer happens
to know the contributor personally, the contributor indicated that he
is using a pseudonym or arbitrarily changed his name under the policy.
In this case, we lack a clear policy allowing the contributor
to reattain trust.

Furthermore, enforcing higher standards for identity verification may
make sense for groups having elevated privileges or specific legal
responsibility, e.g. the Infrastructure team or Trustees.

If a centralized identity verification model was to be introduced
in Gentoo, it would probably be necessary to perform most
of the verifications remotely.  This would require transferring
sensitive personal data to a single entity which is undesirable.

On the other hand, a distributed identity verification model is readily
provided by OpenPGP Web of Trust.  In this case, verification can be
performed between individual pairs of developers, reducing the amount of
sensitive information at the disposal of a single entity and increasing
the chances of performing the verification face-to-face.

Purpose and scope
This specification does not enforce identity verification anywhere.
Instead, it aims to provide clear rules for whenever developers
establish such a process is necessary.  Identity verification may be
enforced in specific groups of developers separately, via internal
project policies or Council-approved policies.

If a identity is verified according to this specification, this fact
should be recorded via signing UIDs matching the verified data
on the person's OpenPGP key.  Such signature cryptographically confirms
that the signer has verified that the specific signee's UID provides
legitimate real name and e-mail address of the key owner.  Furthermore,
it is recommended that the signer includes the URL of this GLEP
as the certification policy URL (``--cert-policy-url`` in *gpg(1)*),
and appropriately indicates certification level (see
``--default-cert-level`` in *gpg(1)*).

The certification level of signatures following this specification must
be either 2 or 3, depending on how minutely the signer verified signee's
identification documents.

Identity verification
Face-to-face verification
The recommended procedure for identity verification is for the signer
to meet signee face-to-face.  The signer must:

1. Obtain the signee's OpenPGP key fingerprint, the complete public key
   data or a stronger digest of it over a tamper-resistant channel
   (preferably on paper).  The signer must reliably compare this data to
   verify the authenticity of the key being signed.

2. Verify the signee's identity using a government-issued identification
   document with a photograph.  The verification must include,
   to the best of signer's abilities:

   a. Verifying that the counter-forgery features of the verified
      document are present and are correct.

   b. Verifying that the signee's face resembles the photograph
      on the document.

   c. Verifying that the signee is able to issue a signature similar
      to the one on the document (if present).

3. Verify the signee's e-mail address(es), through sending an e-mail
   encrypted using signee's OpenPGP key, containing either randomly
   generated data, or an exported signature for the UID in question.
   Each mail sent must contain unique data.

Only once all three factors are positively verified may the particular
UID be signed according to this policy.

Remote webcam verification
Alternatively to face-to-face verification, it is acceptable to perform
the verification using high-resolution real-time video stream.  In this
case, the signee should perform all the actions necessary for the signer
to be able to verify the identity document in front of the camera.

Verification via government identity services
Finally, it is acceptable to use one of the identity proof forms that
are considered legally meaningful in a particular country, and guarantee
the signee's identity has been verified by an official.  This could
include e.g.:

- public notaries,

- government identity services (provided that the signer is able to
  obtain a cryptographically secured proof of identity),

- bank wire transfers.

GnuPG command line (informational)
In order to create a signature following this specification,
the following command-line arguments can be used::

    gpg --cert-policy-url '' \
        --ask-cert-level --cert-digest-algo SHA512 \
        --edit-key <key-fingerprint>

Alternatively, if those options should bapply to all certifications
made, they can be included in the configuration file

    cert-digest-algo SHA512

.. TODO: update URL when number is assigned

``cert-policy-url`` specifies the policy to which the certification
complies (as recommended above).  ``ask-cert-level`` requests GnuPG
to query certification level interactively when signing every key.
``cert-digest-algo`` enables stronger SHA-2 512-bit digests
on certifications.

Non-obligatory nature
The previous WoT proposal made signatures obligatory.  This has met with
resistance of developers, including claims that there are individuals
within Gentoo who are unable to get their key signed using any of
the proposed methods and outright rejection of real name verification.

Therefore, this proposal avoids making keysigning obligatory for
everyone.  However, it does aim to provide official rule set for
keysigning that can be used by developers at their discretion, or
whenever there is a valid need of verifying contributor's identity.

The GLEP also makes provisions for enforcing identity verification
separately, as a matter of policy.  While it could propose establishing
such a policy for particular projects such as Infra, it makes little
sense to maintain a list of such projects in a GLEP, and update it
whenever it changes.  Instead, individual projects can enforce name
verification on their members, or Council can enforce wider policies
if there is an agreement on them.

Face-to-face verification rules
The verification rules follow common keysigning practices.  Notably,
they are based on assumption that a single signature confirms
the combination of three elements: the signee's primary key, real name
and an e-mail address.

Verifying the primary key fingerprint is important to ensure that
the authentic key belonging to the signee is being used.  Otherwise,
a malicious third party could create a key with matching UID and signer
could sign it instead of the authentic key.

Verifying the real name is the specific purpose of this GLEP, as well
as a standard practice for OpenPGP web of trust.  The name should be
verified against documents that are expectedly hard to forge, and that
include photograph that could be used to verify the owner.  Since
photograph verification is non-trivial and in some cases documents
contain outdated photos, it is supplemented with signature verification
whenever possible.  In any case, this part is considered best effort.

Verifying the e-mail address is necessary since OpenPGP does not provide
any proof of address ownership, and arbitrary user identifiers can be
added to a key.  Unique data needs to be used in order to verify each
address separately.  The data is encrypted to additionally confirm
that the e-mail address' owner actually has access to the key,
and to avoid accidental mistakes.

Traditionally, it is considered sufficient to export a signature for
each e-mail address, and send it.  Then, the signee can decrypt it,
import and publish the update to his key afterwards without
the necessity of any further action from the signer.  Doing this
manually is non-trivial; the caff tool can help.  [#CAFF]_

Alternatively, a simple encrypted e-mail exchange with random data
can be used instead.  Afterwards, the signer signs all confirmed UIDs
and publishes the signature.  This method does not require special
tooling and has the additional advantage of verifying that the signee
can send mail from claimed address.

Allowing webcam identification
There are conflicting opinions as to whether remote identity
verification is valid.  However, this method can prove helpful whenever
the signee does not live near any developer.

The use of live, high-resolution stream aims to both reduce the risk of
forgery and copying signee's identification documents.  The ability to
move freely is also necessary to provide at least partial verification
of counter-forgery measures.

Allowing government identification services
Finally, whenever direct verification is inconvenient, it could be
acceptable to rely on government officials and institutions that are
expected to verify the identity of citizens.  The most common case of
this are public notaries who can provide appropriate proofs of identity
for a fee.

Besides those, if the signer and signee live in the same country,
additional national verification mechanisms may be used as long
as special care is taken to perform an authenticated exchange.

In some cases, randomly-generated data exchange via wire transfer may be
considered sufficient, provided that the signee's bank is known to
verify identity of its customers.

Backwards Compatibility
The policy is non-obligatory, and therefore does not affect existing

Existing developer signatures may be incompatible with the policy.
In order to make policy conformance clear, the GLEP recommends including
appropriate policy URL in signatures.

Reference Implementation

.. [#GLEP76] GLEP 76: Copyright Policy

.. [#WOT-JAN2019] [gentoo-project] pre-GLEP: Gentoo OpenPGP web of trust

.. [#CAFF] caff - Debian Wiki

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Best regards,
Michał Górny


File name MIME type
signature.asc application/pgp-signature