WebID Incubator Group Charter

The mission of the WebID Incubator Group, part of the Incubator Activity, is to further advance the WebID protocol for full standardization.

WebID is an authentication protocol that uses the SSL/TLS layer for user identification by tying the client to a profile document on the web through placing a URI in the Subject Alternative Name field in an X509 certificate. This is the first step to a fully standard-based browser authentication experience. Of course it is not limited to browser based authentication: peer to peer server authentication will work just as well.

Research on WebID has been evolving since 2008 on the FOAF protocol mailing list and the ESW Wiki. What is required now is to pursue the work in a more structured environment, grow the number of interested parties from the Social Web, security and browser communities and integrate their feedback.

Details on how to join are to be found on the WebID Incubator Group Home Page.

End date 14 January 2012
Confidentiality Proceedings are public
Initial Chairs Henry Story (the FSF), and TBD (preferably a person from the security domain)
Initiating Members
Usual Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: Weekly
Face-to-face: Once Annually


Activities include:

Success Criteria

The WebID Incubator Group will be considered successful if at least the requirements and use cases as well as the interoperability report is delivered in time.

Out of Scope

Making the protocol complex by attempting to solve all problems.


Dependencies and Liaisons

W3C Groups

Federated Social Web Incubator Group
We are actively looking for participation and feedback from members of that community. There are too many members of that community whose work could be relevant to this work to list them all here. Some that spring to mind are WebFinger and Portable Contacts, already mentioned in the draft specification.
Semantic Web Activity
Shared domain of interest. Start looking at wider trust reasoning issues that are brought out by the WebID protocol, and that may be developed by other SW reasoning groups.

External Groups

IETF Transport Layer Security (tls) Working Group
All current WebID implementations function with TLS. The feedback and views of the TLS working group will be very helpful in a number of ways. This should not to understood as limiting consultation to classical TLS technology over TCP, but can include the topics within IETF's DTLS (RFC 4347), or TTLS (RFC5281), or other similar re-purposings of the SSL handshake. The relevancy of newer encryption techniques for communication protocols (such as "authenticated encryption") are the kind of topic it would be useful to have feedback on too.
FOAF project
The FOAF vocabulary, though not essential to the protocol, provides for some good use cases.
OpenID Foundation
WebID and OpenID both use a URI to identify a user. The methods for proving authentication are different, but each is useful in different circumstances (WebID cannot work for example in many telephones). It would be valuable to document more formally ways in which both protocols can best interact.
The Kantara intiative.
The Kantara initiative has the broader goal of harmonising with identity solutions, and we will be pleased to harmonize with them. WebId is a lightweight technical solution that should make it very easy to insert into most identity solutions.
OASIS Security Services (SAML) Technical Committee
To explore synergies and use cases with Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML).
Internet Identity Workshop and ID Commons
The Internet Identity Workshop organises meetings between many different identity players in light well organised workshops. Idenity Commons is a hub linking many user-centric identity efforts including OpeniD, Information cards, OSIS, Higgins -
OAuth IETF Working Group
To explore the overlaps and complemenarities between OAuth and WebID


Professionals from Web software companies, relevant standardization organizations, universities, and research units are welcome to participate in the WebID Incubator Group. Members should be expected to introduce themselves and participate over the public mailing-list. Participants must be willing to attend the majority of the group's teleconferences and face-to-face meetings, and actively participate to the elaboration of deliverables.


This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list public-xg-webid@w3.org (archive) . The group's Member-only list is member-xg-webid@w3.org (archive)

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the WebID Incubator Group home page.

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

Patent Policy

This Incubator Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on the topic addressed by this charter. W3C reminds Incubator Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Incubator Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Incubator Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.

Incubator Groups have as a goal to produce work that can be implemented on a Royalty Free basis, as defined in the W3C Patent Policy. The W3C Team is responsible for notifying all Participants in this Incubator Group in the event that a new Working Group is proposed to develop a Recommendation that takes the XG Report as an input.

Additional Information

WebID is a secure authentication protocol that enables the building of distributed, open and secure social networks: the Social Web. For a more details see also Towards A Privacy-Aware, Trusted Web, which has been accepted as a position paper for the W3C Workshop on Privacy for Advanced Web APIs 12/13 July 2010, London.

About this Charter

This charter for the WebID Incubator Group has been created according to the Incubator Group Procedures documentation. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

1 February 2011: Henry Story's affiliation changed from public Invited Expert to affiliated with the FSF.

Michael Hausenblas and Henry Story

$Date: 2011/02/02 13:52:58 $