Tag Archives: Privacy

My talks at FOSDEM 2019

I’ll be celebrating my 10th FOSDEM when I travel down to Brussels again in early February 2019. That’s ten years in a row. It’ll also be the 6th year I present something there, as I’ve done these seven talks in the past:

My past FOSDEM appearances

2010. I talked Rockbox in the embedded room.

2011. libcurl, seven SSL libs and one SSH lib in the security room.

2015. Internet all the things – using curl in your device. In the embedded room.

2015. HTTP/2 right now. In the Mozilla room.

2016. an HTTP/2 update. In the Mozilla room.

2017. curl. On the main track.

2017. So that was HTTP/2, what’s next? In the Mozilla room.

DNS over HTTPS – the good, the bad and the ugly

On the main track, in Janson at 15:00 on Saturday 2nd of February.

DNS over HTTPS (aka “DoH”, RFC 8484) introduces a new transport protocol to do secure and private DNS messaging. Why was it made, how does it work and how users are free (to resolve names).

The presentation will discuss reasons why DoH was deemed necessary and interesting to ship and deploy and how it compares to alternative technologies that offer similar properties. It will discuss how this protocol “liberates” users and offers stronger privacy (than the typical status quo).

How to enable and start using DoH today.

It will also discuss some downsides with DoH and what you should consider before you decide to use a random DoH server on the Internet.


In the Mozilla room, at 11:30 on Saturday 2nd of February.

HTTP/3 is the next coming HTTP version.

This time TCP is replaced by the new transport protocol QUIC and things are different yet again! This is a presentation about HTTP/3 and QUIC with a following Q&A about everything HTTP. Join us at Goto 10.

HTTP/3 is the designated name for the coming next version of the protocol that is currently under development within the QUIC working group in the IETF.

HTTP/3 is designed to improve in areas where HTTP/2 still has some shortcomings, primarily by changing the transport layer. HTTP/3 is the first major protocol to step away from TCP and instead it uses QUIC. I’ll talk about HTTP/3 and QUIC. Why the new protocols are deemed necessary, how they work, how they change how things are sent over the network and what some of the coming deployment challenges will be.

DNS Privacy panel

In the DNS room, at 11:55 on Sunday 3rd of February.

This isn’t strictly a prepared talk or presentation but I’ll still be there and participate in the panel discussion on DNS privacy. I hope to get most of my finer points expressed in the DoH talk mentioned above, but I’m fully prepared to elaborate on some of them in this session.

User data probably for sale

It’s time for a little “doomsday prophesy”.

Already seen happen

As was reported last year in Sweden, mobile operators here sell customer data (Swedish article) to companies who are willing to pay. Even though this might be illegal (Swedish article), all the major Swedish mobile phone operators do this. This second article mentions that the operators think this practice is allowed according to the contract every customer has signed, but that’s far from obvious in everybody else’s eyes and may in fact not be legal.

For the non-Swedes: one mobile phone user found himself surfing to a web site that would display his phone number embedded on the site! This was only possible due to the site buying this info from the operator.

While the focus on what data they sell has been on the phone number itself – and I do find that a pretty good privacy breach in itself – there’s just so much more the imaginative operators just very likely soon will offer companies who just pay enough.

Legislations going the wrong way

There’s this EU “directive” from a few years back:

Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC

It basically says that Internet operators must store information of users’ connections made on the net and keep them around for a certain period. Sweden hasn’t yet ratified this but I hear other EU member states already have it implemented…

(The US also has some similar legislation being suggested.)

It certainly doesn’t help us who believe in maintaining a level of privacy!

What soon could happen

There’s hardly a secret that operators run network supervision equipments on their customer networks and thus they analyze and snoop on network data sent and received by each and every customer. They do this for network management reasons and for such legislations I mentioned above. (Disclaimer: I’ve worked and developed code for a client that makes and sells products for exactly this purpose.)

Anyway, it is thus easy for the operators to for example spot common URLs their users visit. They can spot what services (bittorrent, video sites, Internet radio, banks, porn etc) a user frequents. Given a particular company’s interest, it could certainly be easy to check for specific competitors in users’ visitor logs or whatever and sell that info.

If operators can sell the phone numbers of their individual users, what stops them from selling all this other info – given a proper stash of money from the ones who want to know? I’m convinced this will happen sooner or later, unless we get proper legislation that forbids the operators from doing this… In Sweden this sell of info is mostly likely to get done by the mobile network operators and not the regular Internet providers simply because the mobile ones have this end user contract to lean on that they claim gives them this right. That same style of contract and terminology, is not used for regular Internet subscriptions (I believe).

So here’s my suggestion for Think Geek to expand somewhat on their great shirt:


(yeah, I have one of those boring ones with only the first line on it…)

Open source personal

I participate in a range of different open source projects. Of course I spend more time on some of them and only a very little time in most of them, but I’m currently listed as member of 18 projects on sourceforge and 16 on ohloh and I can easily figure out a bunch more than aren’t listed on either of those sites.

I’m just the kind of guy who tend to actually get the code and write up a patch for problems, and in fact also in many cases I’ll write an fresh application and publish it openly for the world (not that my typical programs get any particularly large audience but still). I’m not saying everyone has to be like this, I’m just describing me here.

It seems this is a troublesome concept for people to grasp.

I get a large amount of private mail where people talk about “your project” (as in a single one that I am supposed to understand which one they’re referring to) and just about all open source-related interview/questionnaire things I’ve filled in tend to assume My One Single Project. In the first case I can often guess which one they refer to by the phrasing of the mail, and in the second case I tend to answer for the project I’m involved the most in.

So I get this feed of private emails on projects I participate in, but I don’t like private emails about open source projects when people request and expect free support and help. If they want free support, I expect the people to post the questions publicly and open to allow others to reply and read both the question and the subsequent answer online, right there at the time they’re asked but also much later when searching for help on the same subject as then the answers will be around in mailing list archives etc.

These days I have a blanket reply form that I bounce back when I get private support mails and I will admit that most people respect that after having been told about the situation. Every now and then of course I get a violent refusal for sympathy and instead I get to learn I’m an arrogant bastard. This is also related to the fact that:

We (Haxx) run and offer commercial support around curl and libcurl, and for that purpose we have a dedicated support email address. Mail there if you’re willing to pay for support. That’s actually quite clearly spelled out everywhere where that address is displayed, but yet people seem to find that a good place to mail random questions and bug reports. Just today I got a very upset mail response after I mentioned the “paid support” part of the deal there expecting us (me?) to instantly fix bugs regardless since I’ve been told about them per email…

All in all, I’m not really complaining since I’m generally getting along fine with everyone and stuff around this.

Just everyone try to keep things apart: the projects, the people and the companies. They’re sometimes intertwined but sometimes not.