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Re: draft-ietf-smime-idea

2000-02-23 12:19:04

Paul raises some very important points. Let me share my view as the S/MIME Working Group Chair.

1.  We must have an IPR statement for this document to progress to an RFC.

2. I do not mind some justification text. Something like: "Organization who make already use of IDEA for other applications also want to use IDEA in S/MIME." But, in my opinion, the marketing hype needs to be significantly reduced. The CAST-128 document does not try to convince anyone that CAST-128 is appropriate or inappropriate for any particular group of users. The IDEA document should have a similar tone.

3. I would like this document to become a Standards Track document. The document should state the one and only way that IDEA is used with CMS. Clearly, IDEA will not be mandatory to implement, but if IDEA is implemented, then it MUST be done in the manner specified in this document. I cannot recommend that this document become a Standards Track RFC until items 1 and 2 are repaired.


At 09:58 AM 02/23/2000 -0800, Paul Hoffman / IMC wrote:
There are a few things in this document that should raise concern.

Appendix C states clearly that this is a patented algorithm for which licensing is available. However, it appears that no one has let the IETF Secretariat know that. Nothing about IDEA is listed on <>. This draft should not be considered until there is a formal statement to the IETF.

Parts of the document sounds like a marketing brochure. "Today, IDEA is widely applied in electronic business applications." "Especially for those organization who make already use of IDEA on a wide scale it is of high interest that IDEA is also available in S/MIME." "Experts in cryptography consider IDEA to be a highly secure symmetric cipher [IDEA]." And so on.

These seem particularly inappropriate for an RFC. To be frank, I've never heard of anyone wanting to use IDEA for anything other than old PGP. The folks who wrote PGP had their reasons for choosing IDEA when they did, but they dropped IDEA as a required algorithm for OpenPGP and that doesn't appear to have negatively affected them. The IETF shouldn't codify this kind of marketing hype, even in an Informational RFC. To move forwards with this, it would be nice if the authors went through the draft and took out the marketing fluff.

--Paul Hoffman, Director
--Internet Mail Consortium

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