[Top] [All Lists]

Re: Restarting the 40-bit debate

1997-05-10 21:44:33
Meta-discussion alert.

But a reasonable meta-discussion. Thank you for bringing it up.

The charter is languishing now because Jeff Schiller said that he won't
even consider this to become a working group until the RC2 secret and
S/MIME trademark issues are fully resolved. Personally, I agree with his
restrictions: they will lead to focus and clarity for the work. Jeff gave
RSA until July 1, and RSA said that they thought they would have a
resolution well before then.

At this time, neither of the two required issues is resolved, so talking
about a charter and a working group is premature. Well, I still believe
that a charter could be bounced around a bit, but I think it's premature to
go too far with it because there is still real doubt that we can be a WG.

What this leads to is us talking about drafts that may not end up coming
from a Working Group. The drafts might end up being Informational only. The
drafts might be prevented from being published in the IETF at all if they
include RC2 and RSA does not make the RC2 spec available in a reasonable
form. All of this was covered in glorious detail at the BOF in Memphis.

All of this is fine with me. I'm trying *not* to make it look like we're a
wannabe WG until it is clear that we *can* be a WG. Maybe I should take the
early proposed charter off the Web page, since it doesn't represent today's

What we're left with is a pair of drafts and a large group of people
wanting an open standard that is likely to be widely implemented. It is
certainly not a WG, there is no chairperson, there's just the drafts and
the current implementations that, to date, actually meet what the drafts
say (as long as you believe that FOO==RC2, which is yet to be seen). The
main questions to the *mailing list* are "does these drafts do what they
say that they do" and "are there technical or cryptographic flaws"; there
are lots of non-main questions. These questions will be relevant and useful
to the Internet community regardless of what the end result of the drafts
is, but these are not questions that relate to a stated charter.

Note to the folks on this list new to the IETF: No, this isn't picky IETF
politics. This is how good standards like many of the ones that the IETF
has promulgated are made. Ned's story about MIME is just one of many where
a very good product came out of a very hard process. There are lots of
similar stories within the IETF.

Is this the only way to move an open standard forward? No, but it works
better for the entire Internet community and the S/MIME implementors than
leaving S/MIME a closed, proprietary, poorly-worded "standard".

--Paul E. Hoffman, Director
--Internet Mail Consortium