Jahed Ahmed

Domain Ownership, Web Authorship and WebVerify

The problem I have is simple: no one owns the same domains forever. So when people are visiting or linking to domains owned by a specific person or company, they expect to link to a specific author's work. If that authorship changes, the link is no longer relevant.

I have this issue with my old domain. I want to get rid of it, but nothing's stopping someone from buying it and serving ads or malicious content. Even after two years, people still use it; linked from other websites and their bookmarks. Even with a redirect page asking them to switch over, those links will never change. There's nothing I can do about it. In a few years, I'll just have to accept it might lead people to malicious websites, unrelated pages, or a dead end. All of which can be annoying when you're browsing the web.

So, what's the solution?

A somewhat naive approach is to include a signature alongside every page and have links include a public key reference. The browser can then verify the linked page is still authored by whoever the link expects. If it isn't, a warning can show up, or whatever the preference is like using a web archive.

Introducing WebVerify

Over the past few days, I've been working on a proof-of-concept called WebVerify. It's a Firefox Web Extension (a.k.a. plugin) (a.k.a. add-on). The first one I've written. I'm not glad about the code quality, but I'm new to the ecosystem so it's expected. Again, it's a proof-of-concept so I'm not expecting anyone to use it -- me included.

A Web Page Verified by WebVerify

Conclusion

This was originally one large blog post about my ideas to solve this problem, which eventually split into two, which then became WebVerify. That's Blog-driven Development in action. To read that second blog post which goes into a lot more detail, it's become WebVerify's Documentation, so check it out if you want.

Thanks for reading.

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