Internet Architecture Board (IAB) M. Thomson
Request for Comments: 8752
Category: Informational M. Nottingham
ISSN: 2070-1721 March 2020
Report from the IAB Workshop on Exploring Synergy between Content
Aggregation and the Publisher Ecosystem (ESCAPE)
The Exploring Synergy between Content Aggregation and the Publisher
Ecosystem (ESCAPE) Workshop was convened by the Internet Architecture
Board (IAB) in July 2019. This report summarizes its significant
points of discussion and identifies topics that may warrant further
Note that this document is a report on the proceedings of the
workshop. The views and positions documented in this report are
those of the workshop participants and do not necessarily reflect IAB
views and positions.
Status of This Memo
This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
published for informational purposes.
This document is a product of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
and represents information that the IAB has deemed valuable to
provide for permanent record. It represents the consensus of the
Internet Architecture Board (IAB). Documents approved for
publication by the IAB are not candidates for any level of Internet
Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 7841
Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8752
Copyright (c) 2020 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
document authors. All rights reserved.
This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
) in effect on the date of
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Table of Contents 1.
Mention of Specific Entities 2.
Use Cases 2.1.
Instant Navigation 2.2.
Offline Content Sharing 2.3.
Other Use Cases 2.3.1.
Book Publishing 2.3.2.
Web Archiving 3.
Interactions between Web Publishers and Aggregators 3.1.
Incentives for Web Packages 3.2.
Operational Costs 3.3.
Content Regulation 3.4.
Web Performance 4.
Systemic Effects 4.1.
Consolidation of Power in Linking Sites 4.1.2.
Consolidation of Power in Publishers 4.1.3.
Consolidation of User Preferences 4.2.
Effect on Web Security 4.3.
Privacy of Content 5.
AMP Issues Unrelated to Web Packaging 5.1.
AMP Governance 5.2.
Constraints on the AMP Format 5.3.
Implementation of Paywalls 6.
Venues for Future Discussion 7.
Security Considerations 8.
Informative References Appendix A
. About the Workshop A.1.
Thursday 2019-07-18 A.1.2.
Friday 2019-07-19 A.2.
Workshop Attendees Appendix B
. Web Packaging Overview B.1.
Authority in HTTPS B.2.
Authority in Web Packaging B.3.
The AMP Format, Google Search Results, and Web Packaging
IAB Members at the Time of Approval
The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) holds occasional workshops
designed to consider long-term issues and strategies for the
Internet, and to suggest future directions for the Internet
architecture. This long-term planning function of the IAB is
complementary to the ongoing engineering efforts performed by working
groups of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
The IAB convened the ESCAPE Workshop to examine some proposed changes
to the Internet and the Web, and their potential effects on the
Internet publishing landscape. Of particular interest was the Web
Packaging proposal from Google, under consideration in the IETF, the
W3C's Web Incubator Community Group (WICG), and the Web Hypertext
Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG).
In considering these proposals, we heard about both positive effects
of Web Packaging and concerns that it could have significant effects
on the relationship between publishers (e.g., news web sites) and
content aggregators (e.g., search engines and social networks). As
such, our focus was primarily on this relationship, rather than
Online publishers do not regularly participate in standards
activities directly. A workshop format was used to solicit input
from them. The workshop had 27 participants from a diverse set of
backgrounds, including a small number of attendees from publishers,
one aggregator (Google), plus representatives from browsers, the
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) community, Content Distribution
Networks (CDNs), network operators, academia, and standards bodies.
See the workshop call for papers [CFP] for more information and a
complete listing of submissions.
As intended, the workshop was primarily a forum for discussion, so it
did not reach definite conclusions. Instead, this report is the
primary output of the workshop, as a record of that discussion.
This report documents the use cases discussed in Section 2
explains the interactions between publishers and aggregators that
might be affected by it in Section 3
. Appendix A
details about the workshop itself. For those unfamiliar with Web
Packaging, Appendix B
provides a summary as background material.
1.1. Mention of Specific Entities
Participants agreed to conduct the workshop under the Chatham House
Rule [CHATHAM-HOUSE], so this report does not attribute statements to
individuals or organizations without express permission. Submissions
to the workshop were public and thus attributable; they are used here
to provide substance and context.
2. Use Cases
Much of the workshop concentrated on discussion of the validity and
relative merits of the use cases that might be enabled by Web
Packaging. See Appendix B
for an overview of Web Packaging.
2.1. Instant Navigation
The largest use of Web Packaging so far is in Google Search, where
packages are intended to improve the perceived performance of
navigation to pages that are linked from search results when
To enable this, when a linking (or referring) web page includes links
to pages on another site, it also provides the browser with a
packaged copy of the target content, signed by the origin of the
target content. In effect, the referring page provides a cache for
the target page's content. If navigation to one of those links
occurs, having the Web Package gives a browser the assurance that the
cache didn't change the content, so it can treat that content as if
it were acquired directly from the server for the target page -- even
though it came from a different server. In many cases, this results
in significantly lower perceived delay in displaying the target page.
A vital characteristic of this technique is that the browser does not
contact the target site before navigation. The browser does not make
any requests to sites until after navigation occurs, and only then if
the site requires additional content or makes a request directly.
Similar improvements could also be realized by downloading content
(packaged or otherwise) directly from the target site through a
technique called "prefetching". However, doing so would reveal
information about the user's activity on the linking page to those
sites -- even when the user never actually navigates to it.
| Note: This technique that uses Web Packaging is also referred
| to as "privacy-preserving prefetch". This document avoids that
| term as there was some contention at the workshop about which
| aspects of privacy might be preserved by the technique.
Sites bundled with Web Packaging can additionally be constructed in a
way that ensures that they render without needing any additional
network access. This makes it possible to provide near-instantaneous
navigation. The proposed changes to web navigation in support of
loading Web Packages is designed to support this use case.
Workshop participants recognized the value of web performance for
usability, as well as for business metrics like retention and bounce
rates. Such improvements were seen as a valuable goal, but
publishers raised questions about whether they justified the cost of
supporting an additional format, while others raised concerns about
different aspects of the Web Packaging proposal.
2.2. Offline Content Sharing
Another primary use case discussed was the ability to share web
content between devices where neither has an active connection to the
Internet. One of the stated goals of Web Packaging is to enable
sharing of content offline.
Several participants reported that in areas where Internet access is
expensive, slow, or intermittent, the use of direct peer-to-peer file
exchange (e.g., "saving a website and sharing it on a USB stick") is
commonplace. Most web browsers already have some affordances for
this, but these are recognized as in need of improvements.
In the discussion, several rejected an assumed requirement of this
use case -- that there be no difference between the treatment of a
"normal" web page and that of one loaded from an offline Web Package.
The ability for a Web Package to provide clear attribution for
content was seen as valuable by some participants for a range of
reasons. However, reservations were expressed about the subtleties
of the properties that signatures provide and the effect of this on
web security; see also Sections 4.2
Many participants pointed out that using "unsigned bundles" -- that
is, Web Packages without signed exchanges -- could be adequate for
this use case, since most users don't need cryptographic proof of the
site's identity. However, some expressed concerns that this might
worsen the propagation of falsehood.
Some suggested that the value of signed exchanges was not realized in
small-scale interpersonal exchange of information but in the building
of systems for content delivery that might include capabilities like
discovery and automated distribution. The contention here was that
effective use of digital signatures in offline distribution of
content implied considerably more infrastructure than was described
in current proposals.
No definite conclusions about offline sharing were reached during the
2.3. Other Use Cases
A session on the second morning concentrated on two other significant
potential use cases for Web Packages: book publishing and Web
archiving. These were not seen as "primary" by the proponents of Web
Packaging; the original intent was not to spend significant time on
these subjects, but there was considerable interest from attendees.
2.3.1. Book Publishing
The potential application of a packaging format to book publishing
was discussed, with particular reference to ways that books differ
from web content. Specialists from that industry pointed out that
book delivery can vary greatly from typical web content delivery.
Workshop participants briefly explored existing solutions. PDF was
seen as particularly challenging for this use case, due to its
limitations, and EPUB has constraints that also make it challenging
Although Web Packaging might help to address this use case, the
question of how to identify book content was not resolved. The use
of signed exchanges in this context might offer means of tying
content in books to a website, but several limitations inherent in
doing that were identified.
In particular, book publication specialists represented that books
don't have the same requirements for timeliness or currency as web
pages. For instance, Dave Cramer's submission [CRAMER] observed that
Moby Dick was published over 61,000 days ago, which is considerably
longer than the proposed limit of 7 days for signed exchanges. The
limited length of time that a Web Package can be considered valid was
discussed at some length.
Additionally, the risk of a publisher going out of business during
the lifetime of a book is significant, because books -- at least
successful ones -- often span generations in their applicability. To
that end, having a means of attributing content to a publisher was
considered less practical and potentially undesirable (much like the
discussion above regarding "unsigned bundles").
There were other aspects of book publication that participants saw as
challenging for packaging. For example, it is currently not
understood what it means to refer to distinct parts of a book.
Participants saw this as an area where providing stable references
for bundles of content might offer possibilities, but nothing
concrete came from that discussion.
The potential for active content in a bundle to use web APIs to
enrich content or enable new features was considered valuable.
Models for enabling paywalls were discussed at some length (see Section 5.4
2.3.2. Web Archiving
Web archiving is a complicated discipline that is made more difficult
by the complex nature of the Web itself.
From an archival standpoint, the potential for web content to be
provided in a self-contained form was viewed positively. Several
improvements to the structure of Web Packaging were considered, such
as providing complete sets of content and the use of Memento
Though there were potential applications of a packaging scheme, many
challenges were recognized as requiring additional work on the part
is needed to render some archived content faithfully, but attributing
that content to an origin in all scenarios is challenging.
If packaging were to be widely deployed, it might improve the
situation for archival replay. In particular, the speculation is
that there would be less "live leakage" as packaged content might be
less likely to refer to live resources that currently tend to "leak"
into views of archives. It was also noted that subresources might
also be more likely to be packaged, especially those that are needed
page or some user interactions). Other potential applications and
enhancements are discussed in [ALAM].
Participants discussed the use of a signature for non-repudiation at
some length. In one case related to the Internet Archive, a public
figure disputed the accuracy of archived content, asserting that the
original content was modified either at the source or in the archive.
Some participants initially saw digital signatures as a way to
address such issues of provenance. As similar problems exist in
other areas, such as in book publication, medical research, and news,
a solution to this problem was considered to have broad
However, the discussion ultimately concluded that providing non-
repudiation in retrospect is challenging. Signing keys are not
expected to remain secure for long periods. If keys are leaked
afterwards, an attacker could retroactively generate fraudulent
signatures. Alternative solutions were discussed, such as providing
independent archives for the same data, using consensus protocols, or
using an append-only construct like a Haber-Stornetta log [AOLOG],
all of which can be used to increase the difficulty of altering or
misrepresenting established archives.
3. Interactions between Web Publishers and Aggregators
A significant motivation for holding the workshop was to provide a
forum where publishers could discuss the impact of Web Packaging on
the online publishing ecosystem. Of primary interest was whether Web
Packages might effectively enable a transfer of power from publishers
Both publishers and aggregators at the workshop expressed the
importance of maintaining a positive relationship. Publishers in
particular expressed the need to be able to trust that aggregators
won't misrepresent their work or de-emphasize it for reasons
unrelated to quality and perceived value to the user.
One key question from [BERJON] was discussed:
| Web Packaging has other uses, but it is primarily seen by a large
| proportion of its stakeholders as a solution to problems that AMP
| created. Before we agree to solve those issues, should we not ask
| if AMP was a useful approach in the first place -- and useful to
In examining this issue, discussion focused on the current incentive
model offered by aggregators. The costs that publishers incur for
participation in that system were considered. Considerable time was
spent on AMP; a summary of that discussion can be found in Section 5
We also considered the question of whether standardizing Web
Packaging confers credibility to aggregators exercising unwelcome
control over publisher content or whether the technical safeguards
Web Packaging provides could allow aggregators to relax their
restrictions on the kinds of content they're willing to cache and
serve. No conclusions were drawn.
3.1. Incentives for Web Packages
Submissions to the workshop indicated that the use of inducements
involving better placement and formatting of links to publisher
content had a significant effect on the uptake of related technology.
For example, in [DEPUYDT-NELSON]:
| [...] The Washington Post has always placed a great deal of trust
| in Google to represent its content--and their reward for doing so
| is more traffic, which positively impacts the business.
During the workshop, several online publishers indicated that if it
weren't for the privileged position in the Google Search carousel
given to AMP content, they would not publish in that format.
Publishers that do produce AMP said they see a non-trivial increase
in traffic as a result of deploying AMP content. For example, Yahoo
Japan reported a 60% increase in traffic as a result of deploying AMP
on Yahoo Travel [OTSU]. There was no data presented as to whether
this increase was due to better placement in Google Search results,
the inherent benefits of the AMP Cache, or the use of the AMP format.
Anecdotal evidence was offered by another large publisher that saw a
10% drop in traffic as a result of accidentally disabling AMP
content. However, increases in traffic might not result in similarly
proportioned increases in revenue, as observed in [BREWSTER].
3.2. Operational Costs
Several participants pointed out that introducing a new, parallel
format for Web content incurs operational costs. In particular,
supporting any new format -- such as Web Packaging, Apple News, or
Facebook Instant Articles -- requires not only initial development of
tooling (some generic and some specific to a site's requirements) but
also an ongoing investment in maintaining its operability. Some
participants expressed concern about the impact upon small publishers
with limited technical and financial resources, especially in the
current publishing climate.
Increased exposure from new formats might not always justify the
added expense of providing articles in that format [BREWSTER].
However, a standardized format might help publishers reduce the cost
of maintaining multiple formats.
3.3. Content Regulation
The use of Web Packaging as a tool for avoiding censorship was not a
significant topic of discussion, except to note that publishers often
have regulatory requirements regarding removal or correction of
Reference was made to the desire to remove videos of a recent
shooting [CHRISTCHURCH] and the potential difficulty in doing so if
content were available as Web Packages. Legal requirements to remove
content come from multiple angles: copyright violations, illegal
content, editorial corrections or errors, and right to erasure
provisions in the European Union General Data Protection Regulation
[GDPR] were mentioned. One participant speculated that making it
more difficult to remove material in this way might discourage
regulators from censoring content.
In this context, participants observed that it would be difficult to
create mechanisms to track and control content served as a Web
Package without compromising the stated goal of censorship
3.4. Web Performance
Understanding the effect that Web Packaging might have on web
performance was a matter of some contention.
Some informal analysis from the Google Search deployment was
presented (later published in [AMP-PERF]) that showed significant
performance improvements in metrics related to navigation time
resulting from the combination of prefetch, prerendering, and the AMP
format. These results are suggestive of a possibility that Web
Packaging could provide some of that improvement on its own, but no
data was presented that apportioned the improvement among the three
Though data was presented to demonstrate potential rather than be a
definitive result, discussions raised a number of questions that
suggest the need for further study. Attendees suggested that future
measurements consider the effect of signed bundles distinct from the
enhancements derived from the AMP format. Future research in this
area might also consider the effectiveness of different strategies on
devices with varying capabilities, bandwidth, power consumption
requirements, or network conditions.
Of particular interest is the additional work required to fetch and
render multiple web pages in preparation for navigation. This might
ultimately use fewer connections but comes with an increased network
and CPU cost for clients. Some participants pointed out that
different clients or applications might require different tuning --
for example, when users have limited (or expensive) bandwidth or for
sites with less clear knowledge about the use of outbound links.
Workshop participants also expressed interest in learning about the
effect of Web Packages on subsequent navigations within the target
In discussion, some participants suggested that their experience
supported a theory that operating a cache at the linking site was
most effective and the additional work done prior to navigation in
terms of fetching and preparing content was what provided the most
gains; others suggested that the benefits inherent in the AMP format
was a dominant factor.
Understanding the complete effect of Web Packaging on web performance
will require further work.
4. Systemic Effects
It is not straightforward to estimate how a proposed technology
change might affect all of the parts of a system -- including not
only other components, but also things like end-user rights and the
balance of power between parties -- ahead of time. To date, when
evaluating proposals, the IETF has generally focused on more
immediate concerns, such as interoperability and security.
Moreover, people often find new uses for successful standards
[SUCCESS] after they are deployed. It is rarely possible to
accurately predict all applications of a protocol or format, whether
they are harmful or beneficial. Refusing standardization only
impedes both outcomes.
With the understanding that predictions are difficult to make, there
was considerable speculation at the workshop about the possible
effect of Web Packaging on the Web. Some of that speculation is
informed by experience, but that experience is necessarily limited in
scope. This section attempts to capture that discussion.
Concerns about the consolidation of power on the Internet have
significantly increased lately, as a result of several factors.
While the IAB, the Internet Society, and others are examining this
phenomenon to understand it better, it is nevertheless prudent to
consider whether proposals for changes to how the Internet works
favors or counters consolidation. Favoring entities with existing
advantages -- like resources, size, or market share -- is not
necessarily a factor that disqualifies a new proposal, but it needs
to be considered as a cost of enabling that technology.
Although the outcomes of adopting Web Packaging are unclear, the
workshop revealed several concerns for consolidation risks for all
involved parties: users, publisher sites, linking sites, and services
they each rely on.
4.1.1. Consolidation of Power in Linking Sites
Several participants noted that Web Packaging's enabling of instant
navigation (Section 2.1
) might advantage larger linking sites -- such
as social networks or search engines -- over smaller ones in the same
industry because doing so requires careful selections of which links
to optimize, so as not to create unneeded traffic.
For example, a news article often has many links, but not all of them
are equally likely to be followed. Deciding which ones to prefetch
requires considerable data collection and engineering, so this
technique might not be feasible for smaller entities. Additionally,
some participants noted that this technique favors sites that have a
linear set of ranked links, like search results; it is more difficult
to apply to a page of news (for example) because predicting what link
a user will follow is less obvious.
compatible with the requirements of the site. It was pointed out
that the Google AMP Cache has policies that might be acceptable to
many, and there are other caches. Sites operated by entities other
than Google already use this cache, though it was observed that a
site that does not host its own cache suffers a minor performance
4.1.2. Consolidation of Power in Publishers
Participants seemed to agree that if performance is a strong enough
differentiator, the effective use of Web Packaging might turn out to
be a condition for success for online publishers. Google Search's
choice to privilege content that is served using HTTPS was pointed
out as showing that this sort of influence can be effective.
Equally, it is not necessarily the case that standardization of new
capabilities will affect such policies materially, as noted in
| It seems unlikely that any decisions we make in a packaging or
| distribution system will affect the considerations aggregators use
| when deciding how to rank recommendations or the power this gives
| them over publishers.
The most common concern raised in the discussion was the effect of
this technology on smaller publishers who might be less able to
optimize the packages they produce, where their primary
differentiation in the market has previously been the quality of
4.1.3. Consolidation of User Preferences
In typical operation of the Web, servers have an opportunity to
tailor content to the needs of their users. In contrast, a static
Web Package has few options for individualization, as the content is
generated once and used by many.
As a result, publishers noted that AMP provides less opportunity to
customize content for their customers. Their concerns included not
only personalizing content based on what they know about the user but
also optimizing the package for specific browsers. Other
participants observed in relation to this that Web Packaging might
also have a consolidating effect in the browser market.
Some participants brought up the possibility of customization by
providing multiple packages, including multiple variants of resources
in a single package, or performing customization after the package
was loaded. However, other participants pointed out that all of
these options have negative side effects, either in complexity or
reduced performance arising from larger bundles or delayed
4.2. Effect on Web Security
One session explored the impact of introducing a new security model
for the Web. Currently, sites rely on connection-oriented security
(provided by TLS [TLS]), but Web Packaging adds a limited form of
object security. That is, the package protects the integrity of a
message, rather than providing integrity and confidentiality for its
delivery. Object security is not a new concept in the context of the
Web; designs like SHTTP [SHTTP] are as old as HTTPS. Though the
intent is for Web Packaging to have a far more narrow applicability,
it provides fewer security guarantees than HTTPS, since it provides
only authentication, no confidentiality with respect to the cache,
and no assurance of liveness.
Object-based security -- such as proposed in Web Packaging -- allows
the use of content regardless of how it is obtained; some
participants noted that third parties gain greater control over the
distribution of content, reducing the ability of publishers to
retract or alter content over the validity period of signed content.
Another topic of discussion was composition attacks. In its proposed
form, Web Packaging only provides authentication of independent
resources, not a web page as a single unit, allowing an attacker to
control the composition of resources. This weakness was acknowledged
as a known shortcoming of the current proposal that would be
The issue of managing the trade-off between control and performance
in caches arose. While participants recognized that problems with
resource composition already occur by accident -- for example, when a
cache stores different versions of resources -- Web Packaging allows
an attacker more direct control over what resources are available to
For example, an attacker might be able to cause content with a
security flaw to be used up to a week past the time that the defect
As an example of how Web Packaging might change the risk profile for
sites, participants discussed recovery from cross-site scripting
attacks. It is already the case that a brief exposure to this class
of attack can result in an attacker gaining persistent access, but
mechanisms exist that can be used to avoid or correct issues, like
cache validation and Clear Site Data [CLEAR-DATA]. These measures
are not available to clients unless they connect to the site.
The discussion pointed out that these concerns are not new or
uniquely enabled by Web Packaging. However, it was pointed out that
new features are routinely subject to higher security and privacy
expectations. In an example unrelated to Web Packaging but with
similar trade-offs, shared compression of multiple resources has
significant performance benefits. The risk with shared compression
is the potential for exposing encrypted information through side
channels. Though sites can use shared compression without this
exposure, shared compression will likely only be enabled once it is
clear that measures to prevent accidental information exposure are
understood to be effective in a broad set of deployments.
The discussion also addressed the question of whether concerns might
equally apply to the typical use of a CDN as a third-party provider
of the content. Some participants concluded that CDNs are typically
in a contractual relationship with the sites they serve and so are
more likely to have their interests aligned.
4.3. Privacy of Content
Discussion and submissions raised concerns regarding how serving
content using Web Packages might adversely affect privacy of
individuals. There are challenges here, but the very narrow
applicability of Web Packaging to what is effectively static content
limits the privacy risk. The conclusion was that, provided
sufficient care is taken in implementation, the use of Web Packages
does not substantially increase the information that an aggregator
gains about what content is consumed.
Concretely, an aggregator knows what content it serves in
anticipation of navigation. This is -- at least in theory --
substantially the same as the content that the aggregator might
receive if it performed the navigation itself. Assuming that content
is stripped of personalization, the aggregator gains no new
5. AMP Issues Unrelated to Web Packaging
On multiple occasions, discussion at the workshop concentrated on
problems that arise as a result of constraints on the AMP format or
details of its inclusion in Google Search. For instance, the
requirement to make pages expose their metadata is unlikely to be
affected by any standardization of a packaging format as that
requirement is independent of the process of delivering content.
This section provides some detail on aspects of the discussion that
touched on AMP more generally in this way. Some treatment of these
points is considered relevant as some of the discussion at the
workshop, even under the remit of discussing Web Packaging,
concentrated on the effect of AMP on the ecosystem.
| Note: Of the four formats mentioned in the workshop call for
| papers [CFP], only AMP sent representatives to the workshop.
| The discussion was therefore concentrated around AMP; this
| section should not be read to imply anything about other
Discussion and submissions referred to a commitment [AMP-LESSONS] to
allow publishers to use content that met specific criteria to access
privileged positions in search results, regardless of their adoption
of AMP. Participants felt that this approach might address some of
these concerns if it were adopted and durable. For instance, the use
of Web Packaging might be sufficient to remove some constraints on
active content on the basis that the active content would be
attributed to the publisher and not the AMP Cache.
5.1. AMP Governance
There was interest from workshop participants in the governance model
used for AMP. In particular, the question of how independent the AMP
project would be of Google and Google Search arose.
Three of the seven members of the AMP Technical Steering Committee,
the body that governs AMP, are Google employees, which gives Google
considerable influence over the project. It was asserted that the
governance structure was intended to be more independent of Google
over time. The understanding was that any consumer of the format,
such as Google Search, would make an independent assessment about
whether to use or require different aspects of the AMP project
5.2. Constraints on the AMP Format
Sites often implement AMP by creating a separate set of content in
parallel to their regular HTML content. Publishers noted this as a
high cost, particularly for smaller sites. It was pointed out that
websites can serve AMP-compliant content exclusively. However,
several publishers referred to limitations in the format that made it
unsuitable for their needs.
Many cited reasons for this duplication were related to the necessity
* AMP provides a framework for supporting user authentication, but
publishers asserted that using this framework was not considered
* AMP content does not support rendering of certain content, which
can affect the ability of publishers to innovate content
* The AMP model for the implementation of paywalls (Section 5.4
claimed to be inimical to some publisher business models.
More broadly, they considered AMP's constraints on the use of active
content as problematic, since they prevent the use of capabilities
that are provided on equivalent non-AMP pages. Reference was made to
a proposed <amp-script> element -- which has since been made fully
available -- that seeks to provide limited access to some dynamic
Publishers observed that using the AMP format does not provide any
guarantee of performance gains and, in some cases, could contribute
to performance degradation. It was suggested that this was most
problematic for sites that are already well-tuned for performance.
5.4. Implementation of Paywalls
The use of paywalls by web publishers to control access to content in
return for payment is increasingly common. One popular approach is
to offer a limited number of articles without payment while insisting
on a paid subscription to access further articles.
On several occasions, participants expressed dissatisfaction with the
difficulty of integrating paywall authorization when using AMP. In
particular, they said AMP encourages publishers to include an
article's full content, hidden by default but easily accessible to
motivated users. The discussion extended to workarounds like cookie
syncing [COOKIE-SYNC], which is used as part of authorization and is
a consequence of having cached content hosted on the linking site
rather than the target site.
The same topic came up concerning book publication, where publishers
indicated that having a means of enabling different methods of
distribution without also facilitating unconstrained copying of book
content was necessary.
This conflation of AMP issues with those addressed by Web Packaging
was recurrent in the discussion. As observed in [DAS], these
concerns might be addressed by linking to a signed bundle.
6. Venues for Future Discussion
Web Packaging work continues in multiple forums. Questions about the
core format and signatures are being discussed on the email@example.com
mailing list (https://www.ietf.org/mailman/listinfo/wpack
to web browsers as proposed in [LOADING] will be discussed on the
Fetch specification repository (https://github.com/whatwg/fetch/
7. Security Considerations
Proposals discussed at the workshop might have a significant security
impact, and these topics were discussed in some depth; see Section 4.2
8. Informative References
[ALAM] Alam, S., Weigle, M., Nelson, M., Klein, M., and H. Van de
Sompel, "Supporting Web Archiving via Web Packaging", 6
June 2019, <https://www.iab.org/wp-content/IAB-
Ubl, M., "Standardizing lessons learned from AMP", 8 March
[AMP-PERF] Steinlauf, E., "The Speed Benefit of AMP Prerendering", 14
August 2019, <https://developers.googleblog.com/2019/08/
[AOLOG] Haber, S. and W. Stornetta, "How to time-stamp a digital
document", Journal of Cryptology, Vol. 3, Issue 2, pp.
99-111, DOI 10.1007/bf00196791, 1991,
[BERJON] Berjon, R., "ESCAPE: The New York Times Position", 9 July
[BREWSTER] Brewster, A., "ESCAPE Position / Patch.com", 6 June 2019,
[BUNDLE] Yasskin, J., "Bundled HTTP Exchanges", Work in Progress,
26 September 2019, <https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-
[CFP] Internet Architecture Board, "Exploring Synergy between
Content Aggregation and the Publisher Ecosystem Workshop
2019", 3 May 2019,
Chatham House, "Chatham House Rule",
Stevenson, R. and J. Anthony, "'Thousands' of Christchurch
shootings videos removed from YouTube, Google says", 16
March 2019, <https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/111330323/
West, M., "Clear Site Data", W3C Working Draft, 30
November 2017, <https://www.w3.org/TR/clear-site-data/
Acar, G., Eubank, C., Englehardt, S., Juarez, M.,
Narayanan, A., and C. Diaz, "The Web Never Forgets", CSS
'14: Proceedings of the 2014 ACM SIGSAC Conference on
Computer and Communications Security, pp. 674-689,
DOI 10.1145/2660267.2660347, 2014,
[CRAMER] Cramer, D., "Packaging Books", 2 June 2019,
[DAS] Das, S., "The Implication of Signed Exchanges on
E-Commerce", 7 June 2019, <https://www.iab.org/wp-content/
DePuydt, M. and M. Nelson, "Signed Exchanges and The
Importance of Trust in Aggregator/Publisher
relationships", 4 June 2019, <https://www.iab.org/wp-
[GDPR] European Union, "General Data Protection Regulation", EU
Regulation 2016/679, 27 April 2016, <https://eur-
[HTTP] Fielding, R., Ed. and J. Reschke, Ed., "Hypertext Transfer
Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Message Syntax and Routing", RFC 7230
, DOI 10.17487/RFC7230
, June 2014,
[LOADING] Yasskin, J., "Loading Signed Exchanges", 4 September 2019,
[MEMENTO] Van de Sompel, H., Nelson, M., and R. Sanderson, "HTTP
Framework for Time-Based Access to Resource States --
Memento", RFC 7089
, DOI 10.17487/RFC7089
, December 2013,
[ORIGIN] Barth, A., "The Web Origin Concept", RFC 6454
, December 2011,
[OTSU] Ohtsu, S., "Deployment Experience of Signed HTTP Exchanges
with AMP as a Publisher", 4 June 2019,
[SHTTP] Rescorla, E. and A. Schiffman, "The Secure HyperText
Transfer Protocol", RFC 2660
, DOI 10.17487/RFC2660
[SUCCESS] Thaler, D. and B. Aboba, "What Makes for a Successful
Protocol?", RFC 5218
, DOI 10.17487/RFC5218
, July 2008,
[SXG] Yasskin, J., "Signed HTTP Exchanges", Work in Progress,
responses-08, 4 November 2019,
[TAG-DC] Betts, A., Ed., "Distributed and syndicated content", W3C
TAG Finding, 27 July 2017,
[TLS] Rescorla, E., "The Transport Layer Security (TLS) Protocol
Version 1.3", RFC 8446
, DOI 10.17487/RFC8446
, August 2018,
[YASSKIN] Yasskin, J., "Chrome's position on the ESCAPE workshop", 6
June 2019, <https://www.iab.org/wp-content/IAB-
The ESCAPE Workshop was held on 2019-07-18 and the morning of
2019-07-19 at Cisco's facility in Herndon, Virginia, USA.
Workshop attendees were asked to submit position papers. These
papers are published on the IAB website [CFP].
The workshop was conducted under the Chatham House Rule
[CHATHAM-HOUSE], meaning that statements cannot be attributed to
individuals or organizations without explicit authorization.
This section outlines the broad areas of discussion on each day.
A.1.1. Thursday 2019-07-18
Web Packaging Overview: A technical summary of Web Packaging was
provided, plus a longer discussion of a range of use cases.
Web Packaging and Aggregators: The use of Web Packaging from the
perspective of a content aggregator was given.
Web Packaging and Publishers: After a break, presentations from web
publishers talked about the benefits and costs of Web Packaging.
This included some discussion of the effect of developing AMP-
conformant versions of content from a publisher perspective.
Web Packaging and Security: This session concentrated on how the Web
Packaging proposal might affect the web security model.
Alternatives to Web Packaging: This session looked at alternative
technologies, including those that were attempted in the past and
some more recent ideas for addressing the use case of making web
navigations more performant.
A.1.2. Friday 2019-07-19
Web Archival: This session talked about the potential application of
a technology like Web Packaging in addressing some of the myriad
problems faced by web archival systems.
Book Publishing: The effect of technologies for bundling and
distribution of books was discussed.
Conclusions: A wrap-up session attempted to capture key takeaways
from the workshop.
A.2. Workshop Attendees
Attendees of the workshop are listed with their primary affiliation
as it appeared in submissions. Attendees from the program committee
(PC), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and the Internet
Engineering Steering Group (IESG) are also marked.
* Sawood Alam, Old Dominion University
* Jari Arkko, Ericsson (IAB)
* Richard Barnes, Cisco
* Robin Berjon, New York Times (PC)
* Zack Bloom, Cloudflare
* Abraham Brewster, Patch.com
* Alissa Cooper, Cisco (IESG, IAB)
* Dave Cramer, Hachette Book Group
* Melissa DePuydt, Washington Post
* Levi Durfee, AMP Advisory Committee
* Rudy Galfi, Google
* Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Center for Democracy & Technology (PC)
* Matthew Nelson, Washington Post
* Michael Nelson, Old Dominion University
* Mark Nottingham, Fastly (IAB, PC)
* Shigeki Ohtsu, Yahoo
* Eric Rescorla, Mozilla
* Adam Roach, Mozilla (IESG)
* Rich Salz, Akamai Technologies
* Wendy Seltzer, W3C
* David Strauss, Pantheon (PC)
* Chi-Jiun Su, Hughes
* Ralph Swick, W3C
* Martin Thomson, Mozilla (IAB, PC)
* Jeffrey Yasskin, Google
* Dan York, Internet Society
* Benjamin Young, John Wiley & Sons
Appendix B. Web Packaging Overview
Web Packaging is comprised of two separate technologies: resource
bundling [BUNDLE] and signed exchanges [SXG].
In both the submissions and workshop discussion, the most
controversial aspect of the technology is the use of signed exchanges
as an alternative means of providing authority over a particular
resource, for a few different reasons.
This appendix explains how authority works on the Web and how Web
Packaging proposes to change that.
B.1. Authority in HTTPS
The Web currently uses HTTPS [HTTP] to establish a server's authority
-- that is, to give an assurance that the content came from where the
URL implies. The combination of URI scheme (https), domain name (or
host), and port number are formed into a single identifier, the
origin [ORIGIN] to which content is attributed.
Web browsers use the certificate offered as part of a TLS connection
[TLS] to servers in determining whether a server is authoritative for
that origin; see [ORIGIN] and Section 9.1 of [HTTP]. Content is
attributed to a given URL only if it is received from a connection to
a server that is authoritative for the associated origin.
As an example, a web browser seeking to load "https://example.com/
index.html" makes a TLS connection to a server. As part of the TLS
connection establishment, the server offers a certificate for the
name "example.com". If the browser accepts the certificate, it will
then make requests for URLs on the "https://example.com"
that connection and consider any answers from the server to be
This notion of authority is a crucial property of web security: only
content that is attributed to the same web origin can access all
information in that origin, including the content of most resources
as well as state associated with the origin, such as cookies. This
separation ensures that sites can keep secrets from each other, even
when they are both loaded in the same browser.
B.2. Authority in Web Packaging
Web Packaging, through the use of signed exchanges, aims to provide
an alternative means of establishing authority. A signed exchange is
an expression of an HTTP request and response (an exchange) with
certain information stripped and a digital signature applied.
The signature is made with a similar certificate to the one a server
might offer in HTTPS -- that certificate can also be used for HTTPS
-- but it includes a special attribute that denotes its suitability
for signed exchanges.
A web browser that has been provided with a signed exchange can
verify the signature and, if the signature is valid and the
certificate is acceptable, use the content from the signed exchange.
Critically, the web browser does not make an HTTPS connection to a
server to get the content or to verify the signature.
In effect, Web Packaging moves from a model where authority is
derived from the delivery method (i.e., TLS) to an object security
model, where authority is derived from a signature on objects. In
doing so, it aims to render the means of delivery irrelevant to
determinations of security.
Web Packaging does not claim to supplant the authority model of the
Web completely, but it does provide an alternative that might be used
under certain narrow conditions. In particular, Web Packaging is
intended for use with content that is not secret from an entity that
is aware of the existence of that content.
In aid of this goal, Web Packaging does not include information from
exchanges that is related to the process of acquiring content nor
does it include any information that is related to individual
requests. For instance, use of the Set-Cookie header field is
expressly forbidden, as it often contains information that is related
to a particular user.
B.4. The AMP Format, Google Search Results, and Web Packaging
The relationship between the AMP Project <https://amp.dev/
> and Web
Packaging is complicated. The AMP Project, sponsored by Google,
establishes a profile of HTML with a stated goal of providing support
for the best practices for the format, with a strong emphasis on
performance. The format tightly constrains the use of HTML features
but also offers a library of components that provide sanitized
implementations of many commonly used capabilities.
The connection to Web Packaging is bound up in the way that Google
Search treats AMP content specially. AMP content provides two
properties that Google Search exploits: metadata exposure and static
analysis of active content.
AMP content provides metadata in a form that can be reliably
extracted, using the microformats defined by the Schema.org project
>. This aspect of AMP has no effect on the
discussion, except to the extent that this relates to Google Search
and their use of this metadata in populating the carousel.
makes it possible to analyze content to verify that actions taken are
narrowly limited. This static analysis assures that AMP content can
be served without affecting other content on the same site. For
Google Search, this is what enables the loading of AMP content
alongside search content and other AMP resources.
To provide preloading, Google operates the Google AMP Cache
>, from which AMP content is
served. As a consequence, browsers attribute the content to the
origin [ORIGIN] of the AMP Cache and not the publisher, creating some
confusion about how content is attributed, as discussed in the W3C
finding on distributed content [TAG-DC].
An important goal of Web Packaging is to attribute content loaded
from a cache, such as the Google AMP Cache, to the publisher that
created that content. For more on this, see Section 2.1
IAB Members at the Time of Approval
Internet Architecture Board members at the time this document was
approved for publication were: