Follow-up reports over the next week apparently remained in ignorance of this public letter that Schiller posted on 8/28 to clear up the confusion. It states unequivocally that the IETF is not hostile to the idea of an S/MIME proposal.
Subject: S/MIME and the IETF Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 17:28:26 -0400 From: "Jeffrey I. Schiller"
To: IETF-Announce:;@ietf.org There has been a lot of coverage in the press recently about the relationship of S/MIME and the IETF. The purpose of this note is to clarify the situation from my perspective and to show the way into the future. Back last April at the Memphis meeting I attended and addressed the 2nd S/MIME BOF session. As you are probably aware, the IETF process permits a group of people to meet as a BOF for two session prior to either disbanding or deciding to propose a charter for a formal IETF Working Group. The primary purpose of BOF sessions is to gauge interest in the standardization of a solution for a particular technology problem. At that BOF meeting I informed the group of the ground rules and pre-conditions that I felt were necessary for the IETF to be willing to charter a Working Group in the S/MIME arena. To push things along I established a deadline of last July 1st for the group to either produce a proposed charter or decide to not pursue an S/MIME within the IETF standard. July came and went without such a charter being proposed. At the recent Munich meeting a BOF was held on "Open PGP" and that group agreed to quickly put together a charter for an "Open PGP/MIME" Working Group. That effort is ongoing. Since then the S/MIME proponents have come back to me claiming that they misunderstood the nature of the July 1st deadline and expressed an interest in pursuing an S/MIME Working Group charter. Given that some of the key S/MIME participants were not present at the meeting in Memphis and the results of that meeting were variously reported, it is quite possible that reasonable people misunderstood what was required. The IESG discussed this situation at our teleconference this morning and we agreed on the following position: 1. We are prepared to set aside the July 1st deadline on the grounds that there is sufficient confusion that reasonable people may not have understood what was required. 2. Before the IESG would consider chartering a working group on S/MIME RSA Data Security (or appropriate parent company) needs to execute an agreement with the Internet Society along the lines of the agreement between Sun Microsystems and the ISOC as documented in RFC1790. 3. Note: The IESG/IAB is not making a commitment to charter the group at this time. Point (2) is a pre-requisite, not a quid-pro-quo. At such time that a charter is proposed to the IESG/IAB, we will evaluate that proposal on its merits (as we do all proposed charters) and make a decision at that time. -Jeff