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Trusted content dating

Secure dating/caching of files and web pages
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Have you ever needed to prove the existence of a document/idea at a certain date?

Have you ever seen an unscrupulous merchant make a terrific offer or guarantee, only to see the offer mysteriously disappear later?

This idea suggests the creation of a company that would act as a trusted, impartial third-party in a dispute. Here's how it works:

You set up an account with the company for a small yearly fee. In exchange, you get some amount of storage space on its servers.

You may, at any moment, upload a file to the server. Once you do, the company records the exact date and time you saved the file. You may consult it when you wish, send it to others, and may delete it later if you wish to, but modifications are not permitted (files are read-only).

Secondly, you can send a URL to the company's server to have it connect to that location, download whatever file is there, and store it, along with URL, date and time, in your account. Again, once stored, you may consult or delete it, but not modify it.

As long as this company's timekeeping is known to be trustworthy, you have irrefutable proof that a certain web page or other document contained, at a certain date, what you claim it did. (It's sort of like a notary's seal, only for the net.)

jeepeagle, Feb 05 2003

Secure Online Inventor's Notebook/Weblog http://www.halfbake...20Notebook_2fWeblog
05 Feb 03 | Very similar idea. From the halfbakery, circa Sep 2002. [bristolz, Oct 04 2004]


       I don't know about the details but this looks like a plausable service we will see in the near future. I think internet commerce would be more commonplace with this feature. Awaiting the techies in the group to examine.
marymalibu, Feb 05 2003

       Actually, I recall reading of a service awhile ago which provided dating authentication without having to really trust anyone.   

       You take all of the documents you want to timestamp, archive them, compute a secure hash function for each one, and produce a file listing all of their secure hash values and archive that as well. You then compute a secure hash of that list and submit it to the timestamp company.   

       Each day, the timestamp company will produce a file with all of the secure hash values received that day from all customers. It then computes a secure hash function for that file and gives both the file and the secure hash values to all of its customers. Additionally, it publishes a small classified ad in the next edition of the New York Times giving the overall computed hash value.   

       As long as it can be shown that the ad was printed in the New York Times, the existence of that ad will authenticate the day's list of customers' hashes (which the original customers should have archived upon receipt) . This in turn authenticates the customer's list of hashes of his own files. That list then authenticates individual files.   

       As long as the secure hash function does not have any weaknesses, there will be no way to falsify a document under this scheme short of tracking down and changing a whole lot of copies of the New York Times.   

       Note that there's no need to particularly trust the timestamping service, nor to worry about its longevity. After the customer gives the hash to the service, the customer can verify two days later that the service has done its duty two days later by looking in the New York Times and checking the received daily-hash file against the printed hash value. If the timestamp company fails in its obligation, it will be detected in two days. Since the timestamp company never gets any confidential information and can't renege after an ad is printed, trust is a non-factor.
supercat, Feb 06 2003

       So this is nothing to do with making sure the lady really is "stunning, charming, GSOH"?
whimsickle, Feb 06 2003


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