Dear sirs

I will not assure the following member until official advise
by arbitration:
First name: <Anonymized> Firstname
Name: <Anonymized> Lastname

- Place / Date of face-to-face assurance was during OpenExpo08 Bern
( and:, 2009-04-01
- In the Official Documents (Swiss Identity Card and Swiss Drivers
License) of <Anonymized>, which i have controlled and in the CAP
form filled by <Anonymized> himself, the first name and the name
benign each with a capital  letter followed by lower case letters.
- In the account of <Anonymized> - which can by reached
by his correct  e-mail address <Anonymized> - his first name and
name are written completely in lower case letters. His birth date is
correct, because it is matching the date on the CAP form in my possession.
- Two certified assurers <Anonymized>
assured <Anonymized> in the it-system.

Reasons for my non-assurance:
- The writing of first name and name is different in the official
documents of <Anonymized> and in his CAP form, from his
account. Remarks: Often first names and name or, name only are written
completely in capital letters in official identity documents. Personally
I have never seen an official document there names and / or first names
are written in lower case letters. The better writing of names and first
names within matches official documents of
members, the better acceptance might be in public as will be
known as well as correct and strict assurance organization; I'm not even
talking about e-government or e-payment. And it is the easiest for us
assurers as well, if content AND form of needed CAP information is
identical with official documents and account. And it is also
the easiest in real life for a member, to proof his identity
to any 3rd party, as he can show it's official identity documents who
will match 1:1 his digital identity in certificates. Finally, less need
for any kind of explanations. If somebody don't want this, he will take
anyhow something like pgp oder openid, where e-mail address only is the
- Within the relevant policies [1] [2] [3] (Are there more
or other adequate policies?) I couldn't find a clear and understandable
statement. Nowhere in my knowledge is stated explicit the acceptance of
first names and / or names written in lower case letters only, within a account. And, nowhere in my knowledge is stated explicit the
denial of first names and / or names written in lower case letters only,
within a account. Consequence is uncertainty and doubt and
this leads me to non-assurance, as I assure only, what I understand and
I don't make assumptions.

Request to
Decision about the notation of names in terms of capital and lower case
letters. Addition of relevant policies, pretty sure "Policy
on Names (Draft)" in an clearly understandable way.

I apologize for any inconvenience and thank you very much for your
efforts in due time (A customer, yes a take members as customers, is

Best regards

Andreas Bürki
Certified Assurer


Before: Arbitrator To be determined (A). Respondent: CAcert (R) Claimant: Andreas Bürki (C) Case: a20090618.13


Naming and the writing of names is a complicated subject that follows different rules in different cultures. Even within a culture there is a multitude of difference in how names may be spelled.
Capitalization is the subset of name spelling at issue here. There are a multitude of countries in which the script used differs wildly from western letters. In such scripts capitalization may not even exists. Names that are transliterated from such scripts would then have an arbitrary capitalization, since who is to say which parts of such a transliterated name are capitalized.
The claimant has himself stated that often times names in official documents are spelled in all capital letters although the name would generally be spelled with an initial capital letter followed by letters in lower case. So it is evident that even within the culture of the claimant capitalization rules for names (especially when taken outside the context of sentences) are unsettled.
However there are instances where capitalization of names does make a difference. As an example one can think of McCain or DeHaviland. Both names are properly spelled with a capital letter at the beginning and the interior of the name. Capitalizing correctly here may alter the name significantly at least within the culture of origin.
As a result naming and name capitalization is not something that can easily be prescribed.
However at question here is really whether an assurance of a name spelled with unusual capitalization is permissible. In order to answer that question one only needs to look at the Assurance Policy, which states:

1. Assurance Purpose

The purpose of Assurance is to add confidence in the Assurance Statement made by the CAcert Community of a Member.

With sufficient assurances, a Member may: (a) issue certificates with their assured Name included, (b) participate in assuring others, and (c) other related activities. The strength of these activities is based on the strength of the assurance.
1.1.The Assurance Statement

The Assurance Statement makes the following claims about a person:

   1. The person is a bona fide Member. In other words, the person is a member of the CAcert Community as defined by the CAcert Community Agreement (CCA);
   2. The Member has a (login) account with CAcert's on-line registration and service system;
   3. The Member can be determined from any CAcert certificate issued by the Account;
   4. The Member is bound into CAcert's Arbitration as defined by the CAcert Community Agreement;
   5. Some personal details of the Member are known to CAcert: the individual Name(s), primary and other listed individual email address(es), secondary distinguishing feature (e.g. DoB).

The confidence level of the Assurance Statement is expressed by the Assurance Points. 

Specifically at issue is item 5 of the Assurance Statement, because the question is whether a name "is known" to CAcert if the capitalization is arbitrary and potentially different from the presented Identification Documents. In other words:

If I tell you that my name is "philipp dunkel" do you then know my name?

In this specific case I would answer that question with yes. However that is a judgment call that will depend highly on the name and culture at issue. Throughout the Assurance Process the Assurer should be guided by their own sound judgment. In fact the entire system of the CAcert Web of Trust is based on us trusting an Assurers judgment. Since none of the items mentioned in point 3.1 of the Assurance Policy as guidelines resolve the issue of capitalization the Assurer is allowed, or in fact required, to use his own judgment.
So on the question of whether the claimant may complete this Assurance as requested in the original claim:


As this case has no actual issue, it is dismissed without action. The opinion above may be used as a guide in other cases, but has no implicit precedentiality.

History Log

Arbitrations/a20090618.13 (last edited 2010-01-31 22:34:22 by MartinGummi)