White Pages Meeting Report
RFC 1588

Document Type RFC - Informational (February 1994; No errata)
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Network Working Group                                          J. Postel
Request for Comments: 1588                                   C. Anderson
Category: Informational                                              ISI
                                                           February 1994

                       WHITE PAGES MEETING REPORT


   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  This memo
   does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of
   this memo is unlimited.


   This report describes the results of a meeting held at the November
   IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) in Houston, TX, on November 2,
   1993, to discuss the future of and approaches to a white pages
   directory services for the Internet.

   As proposed to the National Science Foundation (NSF), USC/Information
   Sciences Institute (ISI) conducted the meeting to discuss the
   viability of the X.500 directory as a practical approach to providing
   white pages service for the Internet in the near future and to
   identify and discuss any alternatives.

   An electronic mail mailing list was organized and discussions were
   held via email for two weeks prior to the meeting.


   This report is organized around four questions:

   1) What functions should a white pages directory perform?

      There are two functions the white pages service must provide:
      searching and retrieving.

      Searching is the ability to find people given some fuzzy
      information about them.  Such as "Find the Postel in southern
      California".  Searches may often return a list of matches.

      While the idea of indexing has been around for some time, such as
      the IN-ADDR tree in the Domain Name System (DNS), a new
      acknowledgment of its importance has emerged from these

Postel & Anderson                                               [Page 1]
RFC 1588                   White Pages Report              February 1994

      discussions.  Users want fast searching across the distributed
      database on attributes different from the database structure.
      Pre-computed indices satisfy this desire, though only for
      specified searches.

      Retrieval is obtaining additional information associated with a
      person, such as an address, telephone number, email mailbox, or
      security certificate.

      Security certificates (a type of information associated with an
      individual) are essential for the use of end-to-end
      authentication, integrity, and privacy in Internet applications.
      The development of secure applications in the Internet is
      dependent on a directory system for retrieving the security
      certificate associated with an individual.  For example, the
      privacy enhanced electronic mail (PEM) system has been developed
      and is ready to go into service, and is now hindered by the lack
      of an easily used directory of security certificates.  An open
      question is whether or not such a directory needs to be internally

   2) What approaches will provide us with a white pages directory?

      It is evident that there are and will be several technologies in
      use.  In order to provide a white pages directory service that
      accommodates multiple technologies, we should promote
      interoperation and work toward a specification of the simplest
      common communication form that is powerful enough to provide the
      necessary functionality.  This "common ground" approach aims to
      provide the ubiquitous WPS (White Pages Service) with a high
      functionality and a low entry cost.

   3) What are the problems to be overcome?

      It must be much easier to be part of the Internet white pages than
      to bring up a X.500 DSA (Directory Service Agent), yet we must
      make good use of the already deployed X.500 DSAs.  Simpler white
      pages services (such as Whois++) must be defined to promote
      multiple implementations.  To promote reliable operation, there
      must be some central management of the X.500 system.  A common
      naming scheme must be identified and documented.  A set of index-
      servers, and indexing techniques, must be developed.  The storage
      and retrieval of security certificates must be provided.

Postel & Anderson                                               [Page 2]
RFC 1588                   White Pages Report              February 1994

   4) What should the deployment strategy be?

      Some central management must be provided, and easy to use user
      interfaces (such as the Gopher "gateway"), must be widely
      deployed.  The selection of a naming scheme must be documented.
      We should capitalize on the existing infrastructure of already
      deployed X.500 DSAs.  The "common ground" model should be adopted.
      A specification of the simplest common communication form must be
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