[FoRK] Does the web have a public timestamper?

Russell Turpin deafbox at hotmail.com
Fri May 6 12:14:35 PDT 2005

Long ago, I thought some site -- maybe a
certificate source like Thawte? -- should
provide a provable timestamping service
over the web. The basic idea is that when
an application wants to timestamp some
item, such as an entry in QuickBooks or
an executed PDF or whatever, it would
(1) generate a signature of the item,
using SHA1 or the favorite hash function
du jour, (2) then post a request to the
timestamp site with the signature,
(3) in the hope of receiving (a) a global
timestamp and (b) a validation signature
of the timestamp and item signature.

The website also would maintain a
globally accessible log, by time, of what
validation signatures it had generated.
These provide independent proof if
ever needed that the item was indeed
timestamped -- and hence, existed --
when claimed.

It seems to me that this would be useful
for a broad range of applications, from
bookkeepping to facility monitoring. I
can imagine all sorts of reasons for wanting
a verified timestamp, from the legal to
the mundane. Is anyone doing this?

FoRK mailing list

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