More Ramblings from a Los Angeles Programmer

January 24, 2009

SSL Certificates in real life

Filed under: daily life, delirium, humor — Josh DeWald @ 4:51 pm

Lately I have thought it would be really nice if there was a way to actually confirm that identiy of someone and, more imporantantly, the organization they claim to be from.

The actual example that keeps coming up for me is when I see people outside of Rite Aid or Ralphs or whatever claiming to be from a charity that I have never even heard of. It’s literally a guy with a piece of paper and a box for money. Anyone who has seen Fred Claus or, I am ashamed to admit, True Beauty knows how easy is to just pretend to be from a charity. How am I to know that these people are legit?

Some of these folks don’t even attempt to look presentable or trustworthy (tying your shoes would be a good start).

It would be great if I could simply ask them for their Charity Chain of Trust documentation and be able to validate it up to the charity itself (and then on to the government, which actually grants tax-free non profit status).

I really don’t know how a system like this would actually work. Most likely it would have to be similar to how our money system works, whereby there are printed “watermarks” and security measures which are resasonably hard to fake for the average joe just trying to make a buck. Then I suppose there could be a website where you enter the hash printed on the certificate to confirm it’s authenticity. That would only work for relatively small values. Better yet it would need to be in the form of a barcode that could be “scanned” using a normal mobile phone camera.

The Salvation Army guys I tend to believe, because otherwise who would actually willingly put on the pseudo-military uniform 🙂

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