Independent Submission J. Davin Request for Comments: 7681 October 2015 Category: Informational ISSN: 2070-1721 Email Exchange of Secondary School Transcripts Abstract A common format simplifies exchange of secondary school academic transcripts via electronic mail. Existing standards are applied to prevent unauthorized alteration of transcript content and to deliver transcripts directly and securely from each student to his or her chosen recipients. By eliminating third-party intervention and surveillance, the defined protocol better protects student privacy and independence than does current practice. Status of This Memo This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is published for informational purposes. This is a contribution to the RFC Series, independently of any other RFC stream. The RFC Editor has chosen to publish this document at its discretion and makes no statement about its value for implementation or deployment. Documents approved for publication by the RFC Editor are not a candidate for any level of Internet Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 5741. Information about the current status of this document, any errata, and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7681. Copyright Notice Copyright (c) 2015 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the document authors. All rights reserved. This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document. Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect to this document.
Table of Contents 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2. Design Motivation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 3. Protocol Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 3.1. Student and Originator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 3.1.1. Transcript Requests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 3.2. Student and Recipient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 4. Transcript Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 4.1. School Transcript Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 4.2. Computational School Transcript . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 4.3. Display School Transcript . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 5. Signed School Transcript . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 6. Transcript Transmission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 6.1. Encrypted Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 6.2. Encrypted and Signed Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 6.3. Encrypted File Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 6.4. Traditional Inline Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 7. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 7.1. Originator Private Key . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 7.2. Originator Public Key . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 7.3. Originator Certification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 7.4. Recipient Public Key . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 7.5. Secure Clients . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 7.6. Automatic Replies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 8. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 8.1. Registration of Eesst-Version Header . . . . . . . . . . 37 8.2. Registration of Organization Header . . . . . . . . . . . 37 9. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 9.1. Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 9.2. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 1. Introduction Traditional, paper-based communication of individual student records protects the rights and interests of all stakeholders -- the secondary school officials who curate student records, the students who are both the subjects and distributors of their own individual records, and the college admission officers, prospective employers, and others who, with the permission of individual students, receive and review such records. In the traditional process, when a graduating student applies for employment or admission to an institution of higher learning, she asks the guidance counselor at her secondary school for a transcript of her academic achievements to support her application. In response, the guidance counselor prepares a paper record of that student's achievements and presents
it to her so that she might forward that transcript to whomever she pleases. In order to prevent forgery of academic transcripts, the paper record presented to the student often includes various marks of its authenticity, such as an imprint of the school seal or the signature of an authorized school official. In order to prevent unauthorized alteration of transcript content, the prepared document is sometimes presented to the student inside a sealed postal envelope that cannot easily be opened without detection -- perhaps aided by tamper-proof tape, signed envelope flaps, or even imprinted wax seals. The integrity of the envelope's physical seal assures the recipient that its contents have not been altered in transit; seals and signatures affixed to the enclosed document assure the recipient of the transcript's legitimacy. The student's privacy is assured by her ability to forward the sealed transcript to whomever she pleases without the knowledge of or further consultation with the school. +++ / \ /\ Digital Transcript / \ / \ Via Web or Database Connection / \ / 88 \ / \ / 88 \ \\ // | College | / \ (---) +-------------->> | | | School | +--------->> (###) +---------+ | | | | +--------+ <<... | | Copies of Digital Transcript School Guidance Dept \@| |@ Via Web or Database Connection | | + + +-------+ +++ +------------>> / \ Third-Party Processor / \ Monitors and Controls / \ Student Communication / \ | College | | | +---------+ Figure 1: Corrupted Model for Exchanging Secondary School Transcripts While the traditional process of distributing academic transcripts admirably protects student privacy and prerogatives, that process also requires manual effort from the school staff for the preparation of each transcript. On the premise of reducing that effort, some school officials have gratuitously misapplied technology in a way that guts student privacy and effectively excludes students from their own business. Figure 1 illustrates an increasingly common aberration. Rather than adopting standardized, readily available technology to protect the integrity of transmitted student data -- as
it had once been protected by their own signatures on sealed envelopes -- school officials interpose themselves (or their agents) between students and transcript recipients, claiming falsely that no other approach adequately assures the confidentiality, origin, and integrity of transcript content or the reliability of transcript transmission. By introducing the role of "third-party processor" in Figure 1, educators disrupt what should be private, bilateral relationships between students and their chosen correspondents, implicitly denying the legitimacy of any technical means by which a student might manage and secure his/her own communication. By coercing students into a false choice between surrendering their privacy or accepting the limitations of a neglected, largely manual system, educators and allied service providers gain significant new benefits at student expense. Among these benefits is the creation of an otherwise unneeded educational services industry to mediate communication between students and transcript recipients -- communication that, by the most natural operation of the Internet, would otherwise be end-to-end. A second consequence of coerced mediation is that the mediators gain unfettered control over school records that would otherwise be private and often protected by law. A third consequence of coerced mediation is that mediators can harvest candid data on student behavior outside the secondary school domain. Even the most basic information about college and employment applications, successful or not, individual or in the aggregate, can have significant value for secondary school officials, college administrators, employers, and general marketing professionals. Moreover, although such data is historically private, it is also more valuable and legally less well protected than internal secondary school records. Mediated transcript distribution vitiates student privacy while endowing school bureaucrats and their confederates with undeserved privilege, but these political concessions are utterly unnecessary to automated transcript distribution. As suggested by Figure 2, the political concessions intrinsic to mediated transcript exchange can be largely eliminated by the most straightforward automation of the traditional transcript process. This memo specifies a common format for exchanging secondary school academic transcripts via electronic mail. Because the defined format supports digital signature of transcripts by their originator, a student cannot fabricate or alter transcript information provided by school officials. Because the described format supports encrypted transmission of school transcripts, the distribution of each student's information can remain private and under his or her control. Because the format supports asymmetric cryptography, the origin and integrity of received transcripts can be verified
independently by the recipient; confidential content can be independently recovered by an intended recipient while remaining protected from unauthorized access. Because the Internet email protocol provides fail-safe delivery, transcripts are reliably delivered to their intended recipients, and the sending student is directly notified of any exceptions. No centralized, trusted authority is needed to mediate communication between students, transcript originators, or transcript recipients. Thus, a student's need for an authoritative record of his education cannot be exploited to restrict or monitor his/her free and private interactions with colleges, employers, or others. Students can reclaim control over their own personal information and their relationships with prospective employers and admissions officers; students can prevent surreptitious harvesting of information about their affairs. Last but not least, specialized software is not required by most participants in the school transcript exchange protocol: the needs of all students and many transcript recipients can be met by existing, standards-based, secure email clients. +++ / \ /\ Digitally Signed Transcript / \ / \ Via CD-ROM, Secure Email, etc. / \ / 88 \ / \ / 88 \ --- | College | / \ (0 0) +-------------->> | | | School | +--------->> ( - ) +---------+ | | | | Copies of +--------+ | | Digitally Signed Transcript School Guidance Dept | | Via Secure Email, CD-ROM, etc. | | | | +-------+ +++ 8 8 +------------>> / \ Student / \ Privately and Autonomously / \ Forwards Digitally Signed Transcript / \ | College | | | +---------+ Figure 2: Traditional Model for Exchanging Secondary School Transcripts
The acronym EESST (Email Exchange of Secondary School Transcripts) names the format and methods defined here for securely conveying student academic records under student control. Requirements for implementors of this specification are expressed here using a keyword vocabulary [RFC2119] that is widely understood within the Internet community. 2. Design Motivation Implicit in any protocol definition is some assignment of functions to the various protocol participants. When those participants are administratively independent one from another, binding assignments of protocol function -- which might otherwise seem purely technical choices -- are politically significant. For the sake of transparency, this protocol specification explicitly reckons the political consequences of its implicit design choices. Preparation and delivery of secondary school transcripts most affects the interests of individual students. After all, the process is entirely motivated by a student's need to certify his or her personal academic achievements as evidence of merit for employment, higher education, or other social advancement or reward. Accordingly, individual student needs properly dominate the design of a common system for transcript exchange. Because a secondary school transcript certifies a student's personal merit, students need transcript documents that are credible to recipients -- for which the origin and integrity of transcript content is assured. Because a school transcript records personal information about an individual student, student privacy is paramount: control of transcript distribution must be closely held by the individual student, and each student must be able to protect the confidentiality of his or her transcript in transit. Communication of transcript content between originator, student, and ultimate recipient is most secure only if that communication is end- to-end. While the end-to-end argument [Sal84] is fundamental to the design of the Internet, it is also critical to the design of secure communication protocols (see Section 6.2 of RFC 1958 [RFC1958]). In contrast, securely communicating student information to a centralized (and otherwise uninvolved) third party clearly degrades student privacy and increases cost. Claims to the contrary are at best logically absurd and at worst darkly motivated. After students, transcript handling must address the interests of transcript recipients, which may include college admission officers, prospective employers, and scholarship foundations. Recipients must be able to evaluate the origin and integrity of received transcript
documents easily and independently. Secondarily, recipients may benefit from mechanical extraction and summary of transcript content to support their own internal decision processes. Finally, common transcript handling must address the needs of the transcript originator -- typically a secondary school guidance counselor or other school official. An originator's legitimate interests are reducing the cost of preparing transcript documents and meeting any legal or moral obligations to protect student privacy. Insofar as the very notion of electronic school transcripts implies their automated preparation by computers, dramatic cost reductions over traditional manual processes are also implicit. An originator's obligation to protect student privacy is most elegantly and inexpensively met by simply not conveying transcript information about a particular student to anyone other than that student. A protocol by which students must request transcript distributions addresses no actual student need but, rather, only the legal needs of third parties seeking to intervene in otherwise private communications. The additional effort of formal transcript requests is needed only when a mediating third party is involved, because, in many jurisdictions, sharing personal information with the third party legally requires student consent, and an electronic transcript request may be conveniently construed as implicit consent. Moreover, a formal transcript request-response protocol is not needed to document delivery of a transcript to its intended recipient. When the student, rather than a third party, directly conveys his/her transcript to a chosen recipient, that student has the greatest interest in successful communication, can observe any communication failures firsthand, and can take corrective action if needed. Familiar, standardized protocols provide unambiguous feedback to the student about successful transcript delivery. The SMTP protocol, in particular, is defined and implemented to be fail-safe, as described in Section 184.108.40.206 of its specification [RFC5321]: Receipt of the end of mail data indication requires the server to process the stored mail transaction information. This processing consumes the information in the reverse-path buffer, the forward- path buffer, and the mail data buffer, and on the completion of this command these buffers are cleared. If the processing is successful, the receiver MUST send an OK reply. If the processing fails, the receiver MUST send a failure reply. The SMTP model does not allow for partial failures at this point: either the message is accepted by the server for delivery and a positive response is returned or it is not accepted and a failure reply is returned. In sending a positive "250 OK" completion reply to the end of data indication, the receiver takes full responsibility for
the message (see Section 6.1). Errors that are diagnosed subsequently MUST be reported in a mail message, as discussed in Section 4.4. 3. Protocol Overview Existing, standardized technology simplifies the process of preparing and distributing secondary school transcripts. Using a computerized procedure, a secondary school administrator prepares a digital transcript document that records the academic achievements of a particular student and presents that document to that student. Using postal delivery, secure email, or other method, the student conveys digital copies of the prepared transcript to recipients of his or her choice. Using a computerized procedure, each recipient may independently verify that the received transcript has not been forged or altered in transit. Because the received transcript is digital, each recipient may use computerized procedures to extract and summarize transcript content for local review and processing. Preparing and delivering a secondary school transcript entails interaction among three kinds of participant -- transcript originator, student, and transcript recipient -- each of whom performs a distinct functional role. Interactions between each kind of participant are proscribed below. 3.1. Student and Originator A transcript originator assembles and digitally signs academic transcripts that document the achievements of individual students in a secondary school. The role of transcript originator is frequently filled by the director of a high-school guidance department or other secondary school official. At fixed times throughout the school year, using then-current information from a student database, the guidance director executes a computer program that, for each relevant student, automatically creates an individual transcript report and digitally signs that report on the director's behalf. The format of each signed transcript document is defined in Section 5 below. The principal responsibilities of a transcript originator are: 1. Generate an OpenPGP key pair that can be used to sign school transcripts. 2. Create and securely store a key revocation certificate for the signing key pair for possible future use should it be compromised.
3. Publish on the World Wide Web the public component of the transcript signing key pair, together with its OpenPGP fingerprint. 4. Securely store the private component of the signing key pair and protect its use with a judiciously chosen passphrase known only to the transcript originator. 5. Use the signing key pair to create and digitally sign transcripts for individual students. 6. Present each signed transcript confidentially to the individual student to which it pertains. Once generated by the transcript originator, each transcript is conveyed to the relevant student using any means that protects the confidentiality of individual student data. For example, a digital transcript may be written to a CD-ROM storage disk and presented to the relevant student when he comes to school. Alternatively, that same CD-ROM could be sealed in an envelope and sent to the student via postal delivery. A student could present a USB flash drive in person at the school guidance office, and her digital transcript could be copied onto that drive. A digital school transcript could also be presented to the relevant student as a MIME attachment to an email message that is encrypted according to the OpenPGP specification. When email is used to convey school transcripts to students, formatting such messages as specified in Section 6 below will foster security and interoperability. After a student receives his/her transcript from its originator, that student is solely responsible for conveying that transcript to any recipients of his/her choosing, as described in Section 3.2 below. 3.1.1. Transcript Requests For several reasons, how students request generation of an academic transcript from their secondary school is a local matter that need not and ought not be addressed here. First, the volume of requests for transcripts is likely to be relatively low, because transcripts can be pre-issued to most students (e.g., graduating seniors) who are likely to need them. When transcripts are digital and easily duplicated by the student, there is no need to generate a new transcript document for each desired recipient. Accordingly, most transcript generation is driven not by student requests but rather by content updates arising from the predictable passing of marking periods or academic sessions throughout the school year. Thus, explicit requests for transcript
generation will be the exception rather than the rule -- from students who have lost a previously issued transcript, or students leaving the school prior to their graduation. Second, a historical motivation for formalizing transcript requests has been to satisfy the school's legal obligation to protect student privacy. In many legal jurisdictions, school officials are required to seek student authorization for releasing information to a third party. Elaborate procedures for requesting transcripts are attempts to codify or automate that authorization process. However, because, under the procedure defined here, each student's information is provided only to that student, no authorization for releasing information to a third party is required. Third, a codified transcript request protocol affords almost no benefit beyond enabling third-party processors to assume the role of transcript originator and/or distributor. Students need no formal "acknowledgment" of their transcript requests: the transcript itself serves that purpose. Because a digital transcript is easily generated by an automated procedure, there is no benefit to returning a request acknowledgment rather than the document actually requested. The primary goal of this protocol design is to strengthen student privacy and agency by eliminating third-party intrusion into what would otherwise be private, bilateral interactions between a student and his school. To codify transcript requests is to undercut directly that fundamental purpose, while gratuitously restricting local interactions between student and school. When each student -- rather than a school official or mediating third party -- exercises principal control of distributing his or her own transcript information, any need for transcript requests is largely obviated. Thus, exchanging and processing such requests is properly a local matter and not further addressed here. 3.2. Student and Recipient When a student is asked (e.g., by a college admissions office or prospective employer) to provide an official transcript of his or her academic achievements, that student may send to the requesting party a copy of the digitally signed transcript document that he has previously received from his secondary school. In this context, the party requesting that the student send a transcript is called a transcript recipient. Because it is the student who conveys his own transcript information, he or she unambiguously controls the set of recipients, and neither the secondary school nor any third party is responsible for or privy to the identities of his correspondents. Similarly, the student is responsible for assuring the privacy of his or her personal information as he conveys it to these recipients.
The student may convey his transcript to his chosen recipient using any mutually agreeable strategy. For example, he may print a copy of his transcript onto a postcard and send it via postal delivery. This strategy does not strongly protect the confidentiality of the student's information in transit, nor does this strategy allow the recipient to automate verification or other processing of the received transcript information. Sending a paper transcript sealed in a postal envelope better protects student confidentiality, but similarly restricts the recipient's ability to verify or process transcript contents. By copying his digital transcript onto a CD-ROM storage disk and sending that disk, sealed in a postal envelope, via surface mail, the recipient can automatically verify and process the transcript content, although protection of student confidentiality in transit might be stronger. Alternatively, a student could send a copy of the digital transcript provided by his secondary school merely by attaching the relevant computer file to an email message addressed to the recipient. If the student completely trusts the end-to-end email transmission path from himself to his intended recipient (e.g., if student and recipient are connected by a common, private network), then the student could send his transcript in a plaintext email; otherwise, the student SHOULD encrypt the email contents to protect his privacy during transmission. If a student chooses to convey his/her school transcript to a transcript recipient via electronic mail, then the principal responsibilities of that student are: 1. Create a personal email account and associated email address from which transmissions of the student's signed school transcript may be sent. 2. For each potential recipient of the student's signed school transcript, discover and record the email address and the public OpenPGP key published by that transcript recipient. 3. Import the OpenPGP public key for each chosen recipient into the local OpenPGP key database. 4. Use an email client application that implements the OpenPGP/MIME specification [RFC3156] in order to encrypt and transmit a copy of the signed school transcript to each chosen recipient. Using common formats and methods to convey transcript content protects students while also simplifying processing for transcript recipients. The representation of transcripts as specified in Section 5 and the use of the transmission formats specified in
Section 6 afford privacy and autonomy to students. By using these formats, recipients may independently verify the origin and integrity of the transcript information that students provide. Common transcript representation also allows recipients to automate the storage, analysis, and review of received transcripts. However, a student cannot use the format specified here to convey his/her transcript to a chosen recipient unless that recipient is prepared to participate in the exchange. The principal responsibilities of a transcript recipient are: 1. Generate an OpenPGP key pair that can be used to encrypt student transmissions of signed school transcripts to the recipient. 2. Create and securely store a key revocation certificate for the key pair generated above for possible future use in the event that the private key component is compromised. 3. Create a (preferably dedicated) email address and mailbox to which students may direct transmissions of signed school transcripts. 4. Publish on the World Wide Web both the dedicated transcript email address and the public component of the OpenPGP key pair generated above, together with its OpenPGP fingerprint. 5. Securely store the private component of the OpenPGP key pair generated above and guard its use with a judiciously chosen passphrase known only to the transcript recipient. 6. Assemble a collection of public OpenPGP keys published by legitimate transcript originators. 7. Receive and decrypt transcripts transmitted by students. 8. Validate the origin and integrity of each received transcript using the public OpenPGP key of the relevant transcript originator. The similarity between the EESST transcript format and generic OpenPGP/MIME email messages allows transcript recipients to inspect, verify, and extract received school transcripts using existing, widely deployed email clients. By using email client applications that support both the MIME and OpenPGP specifications, transcript recipients should easily be able to verify the signature of the transcript originator and to save the various transcript components locally for later review or processing.
Using familiar email client applications for receiving and reviewing small numbers of received school transcripts does not preclude using more automated systems to meet the needs of university admissions departments or large employers. Larger-volume transcript recipients might ask students to direct their school transcripts to a particular email mailbox. Transcripts so delivered could be periodically received, validated, and otherwise organized by specialized application software. Information in the computational component of received transcripts might be incorporated into a candidate database to simplify more quantitative evaluations of the applicant pool. 4. Transcript Content The content of a school transcript is represented as a single MIME body part whose content type is "multipart/mixed". This multipart representation comprises individual MIME elements that represent (in order) prefatory comments from the transcript originator regarding the validation and interpretation of the represented transcript (described in Section 4.1), a rendering of the relevant school transcript suitable for automated processing (described in Section 4.2), and a rendering of that same school transcript suitable for human review and consideration (described in Section 4.3). Figure 3 below schematically presents the MIME structure used to represent transcript content; Figure 4 illustrates an example representation of transcript content. Every representation of transcript content MUST include exactly the following set of MIME content headers: Content-Type: This header is defined in Section 5 of the MIME format specification [RFC2045] and, when associated with the content of a signed school transcript, MUST have the value "multipart/ mixed". Content-Description: This header is defined in Section 8 of the MIME format specification [RFC2045]. Its value provides humans with "descriptive information" about the content of the represented school transcript. Notwithstanding the statement in RFC 2045 that a content description header is optional, this header MUST be included in the MIME representation of school transcript content. MIME-Version: This header is defined in Section 4 of the MIME format specification [RFC2045]. Its value identifies the version of the MIME specification to which the associated body part conforms. Currently, the value of this header MUST always be "1.0". Sometimes, the EESST specification can require an appearance of the MIME-Version header where it is not otherwise
strictly required by the MIME format specification. These seemingly gratuitous MIME-Version headers are deliberately introduced to help users who may need to apply less-capable email clients recursively in order to navigate and display a transmitted transcript. Eesst-Version: The value of this header identifies the version of the EESST format to which the represented school transcript conforms. Currently, the value of this header MUST always be "1.0". From: The value of this header identifies the originator of the represented school transcript. This value names the originating official, his organizational title, and includes, enclosed within angle brackets, the identity of the OpenPGP key with which the represented school transcript has been digitally signed. Organization: The value of this header identifies the organization or institution to which the originator of the relevant message belongs. Within a school transcript document, the value of this header identifies the secondary school that has issued the represented school transcript. By convention, the value of this header names the originating institution along with its geographical location. Subject: The value of this header provides humans with "descriptive information" about the semantic content of the represented school transcript. Inclusion of this header is optional, but, if included, its value MUST match that of the "Content- Description" header above. The presence of the "Subject" header helps some email reader applications to present school transcript transmissions more elegantly. Date: The value of this header identifies the date on which the represented school transcript was created, and its format MUST be consistent with Section 3.3 of the specification for email messages [RFC5322]. With the exception of the optional "Subject" header, each header enumerated above must appear in the MIME body part that represents the aggregate content of a school transcript. No other headers are permitted, and the allowed set of headers may appear in any order. Example MIME headers for transcript content are presented in Figure 4. In the figure, "PESC" stands for the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council; see Section 4.2 for more information.
+--------------------------------------------------+ | TRANSCRIPT CONTENT | | Content-Type: multipart/mixed | | | | +-------------------------------------------+ | | | TRANSCRIPT PREFACE | | | | Content-Type: text/plain | | | | | | | | Body represents transcript preface | | | +-------------------------------------------+ | | | | +-------------------------------------------+ | | | COMPUTATIONAL TRANSCRIPT | | | | Content-Type: application/xml | | | | | | | | Body represents PESC XML computational | | | | transcript | | | +-------------------------------------------+ | | | | +-------------------------------------------+ | | | DISPLAY TRANSCRIPT | | | | Content-Type: application/pdf | | | | | | | | Body represents PDF display transcript | | | +-------------------------------------------+ | +--------------------------------------------------+ Figure 3: MIME Structure of Transcript Content
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="===============BBBBBBBBBB==" MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Description: Official School Transcript for Hermione Granger Subject: Official School Transcript for Hermione Granger From: Transcript Authority at Hogwarts School <email@example.com> Organization: Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry Eesst-Version: 1.0 Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2013 09:55:06 -0600 --===============BBBBBBBBBB== Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="preface.txt" Content-Description: School Transcript Preface To Whom It May Concern: This academic transcript describes the accomplishments of an ... --===============BBBBBBBBBB== Content-Type: application/xml MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="transcript.xml" Content-Description: School Transcript rendered as PESC XML <HSTrn:HighSchoolTranscript=20xmlns:AcRec=3D"urn:org:pesc:sector:Acad ... cord></Student></HSTrn:HighSchoolTranscript> --===============BBBBBBBBBB== Content-Type: application/pdf MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64 Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="transcript.pdf" Content-Description: School Transcript rendered as PDF JVBERi0xLjMNCiWTjIueIFJlcG9ydExhYiBHZW5lcmF0ZWQgUERGIGRvY3VtZW50IGh0d ... IC9Sb290IDEwIDAgUg0KIC9TaXplIDE2ID4+DQpzdGFydHhyZWYNCjE3OTIzDQolJUVPR --===============BBBBBBBBBB== Figure 4: Example Transcript Content
4.1. School Transcript Preface A school transcript preface conveys generic comments about a school transcript from the originating school official. This commentary is in a form that is widely readable by humans without special application tools. This commentary SHOULD be generic in character, providing general information about the preparation and interpretation of transcripts issued by the originating institution; the transcript preface SHOULD NOT provide information about an individual student. The rhetorical form of a transcript preface is sometimes that of a cover letter addressed to a generic transcript recipient. For example, a preface could provide instructions on how to verify the digital signature on the transcript or an explanation of unusual grading practices at the issuing school. A school transcript preface is represented as a MIME body part whose content type is "text/plain". When a school transcript is encapsulated for transmission into a larger email message, arbitrary text within a transcript preface could be accidentally misinterpreted as structural MIME boundaries or email headers. The likelihood of such errors is reduced when preface content does not include lines that begin with hyphen (-) characters, angle bracket (>) characters, or the word "From." Although, ideally, the transcript preface should be readable by humans without special assistance, when these constructs absolutely cannot be avoided within preface text, transcript originators SHOULD apply a content transfer encoding to the preface that insulates it from misinterpretation by intermediary mail transfer agents. The representation of a transcript preface SHOULD NOT include any header fields beyond those enumerated in the specification for the format of MIME message bodies [RFC2045]. 4.2. Computational School Transcript A computational school transcript represents the academic accomplishments of an individual student in a form suitable for automated processing. Accordingly, the content of a computational school transcript is rendered in Extensible Markup Language (XML) [XML11] and conveyed as a MIME body part whose content type is "application/xml". The syntax of the data conveyed by a computational transcript MUST conform to the XML schema for High School Transcripts, Version 1.3.0 [Fun12b], published by the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC). This XML schema depends in turn upon the Academic Record XML schema, Version 1.7.0 [Fun12a] and the Core Main XML schema, Version 1.2.0 [Mar06], also
published by PESC. Detailed semantics for the data elements defined by these XML schema are defined in the PESC XML implementation guide, Version 1.3.0 [Ste12], which also provides usage examples. In order to protect student privacy, this specification does not require a school transcript to convey any particular student information but, rather, defines only a common format for whatever student information may be voluntarily exchanged between consenting parties. The scope of the information exchanged is a completely local matter, and a transcript originator MAY omit from transcript content any information (e.g., a student's social security number, the identity and location of a student's parents, a student's race, ethnicity, or transgender status) that might be regarded locally as sensitive or irrelevant. Indeed, the requirement that a computational transcript conform syntactically to the PESC XML schema imposes few, if any, constraints upon the transcript originator's choices regarding transcript content. Figure 5 illustrates a minimal set of XML elements that satisfies the syntactic requirements of the PESC XML schema. A computational transcript need convey no more information about an individual student than what little is conveyed by that figure. In order to prevent implicit monitoring and control of student interactions with transcript recipients, this specification restricts certain uses of the PESC XML schema by transcript originators. In every computational transcript, the "Destination" sub-element of the "DataTransmission" element MUST convey no distinguishable information and have the particular representation "<Destination><Organization/></Destination>" that is illustrated in Figure 5. This requirement assures that a student may use self-made copies of a signed transcript document for whatever purposes he/she chooses without further consultation with issuing school officials. If the transcript originator is allowed to brand particular destinations onto each copy of a student transcript, then the originator can easily monitor and (to some degree) control the set of college admissions officers, prospective employers, or other third parties to whom the student is providing that transcript. Transcript recipients MUST reject any transcript whose content in any way specifies or restricts the audience, recipient, or distribution for that transcript. Notwithstanding this restriction upon the "Destination" element, the "Source" element SHOULD be included within a computational transcript and convey information sufficient to identify the secondary school or other institution by which the relevant transcript is issued.
<HSTrn:HighSchoolTranscript xmlns:HSTrn="urn:org:pesc:message:HighSchoolTranscript:v1.3.0" xmlns:AcRec="urn:org:pesc:sector:AcademicRecord:v1.7.0" xmlns:core="urn:org:pesc:core:CoreMain:v1.12.0" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="urn:org:pesc:message:HighSchoolTranscript:v1.3.0 HighSchoolTranscript_v1.3.0.xsd"> <TransmissionData> <DocumentID>X</DocumentID> <CreatedDateTime>2011-04-04T09:30:47-05:00</CreatedDateTime> <DocumentTypeCode>StudentRequest</DocumentTypeCode> <TransmissionType>MutuallyDefined</TransmissionType> <Source> <Organization/> </Source> <Destination> <Organization/> </Destination> </TransmissionData> <Student> <Person> <Name/> </Person> <AcademicRecord/> </Student> </HSTrn:HighSchoolTranscript> Figure 5: A Minimal Set of PESC XML Elements Additional restrictions on the use of the PESC XML schema foster common, unambiguous interpretation and simplified processing of computational transcripts: 1. In order to satisfy the minimal syntactic requirements of the PESC XML schema, every computational transcript MUST comprise at least those XML elements that appear in Figure 5. Even when a transcript originator seeks to convey no information within a computational transcript, the computational transcript must be included within the relevant transcript content, and its payload must have the form illustrated in Figure 5. 2. Consistent with the PESC XML schema, any value ascribed to the "DocumentID" XML element must be at least one non-whitespace character in length.
3. Consistent with the PESC XML schema, any value ascribed to the "CreatedDateTime" XML element must have the form of an XML "dateTime" value, as defined in Section 3.2.7 of the XML Schema Datatype specification [XSD]. 4. Lest the origin and correct handling for a computational transcript be misunderstood, the value ascribed to the "DocumentTypeCode" XML element MUST be "StudentRequest". 5. Lest the origin and correct handling for a computational transcript be misunderstood, the value ascribed to the "TransmissionType" XML element MUST be "MutuallyDefined". 6. With the exception of those XML elements that appear in Figure 5, information that is not provided in a computational transcript MUST be represented by entirely omitting the relevant XML data element; omitted information MUST NOT be represented by including an XML element whose textual value is of zero length or contains only whitespace. The representation of a computational transcript SHOULD NOT include any header fields beyond those enumerated in the specification for the format of MIME message bodies [RFC2045]. Although any valid content transfer encoding is acceptable for a computational school transcript, the "quoted-printable" encoding is preferred. 4.3. Display School Transcript A display school transcript describes the academic accomplishments of an individual student in a form suitable for human reading and review. A display school transcript is represented as a MIME body part whose content type is "application/pdf" and whose content conforms to the Portable Document Format (PDF) specification [PDF17]. A display school transcript may comprise one or more physical pages. In order to reduce the chance that the recipient of a signed school transcript could misinterpret its content, the computational component (described in Section 4.2 above) and the display component (defined here) of each signed school transcript SHOULD convey, to the greatest degree possible, identical information about the academic accomplishments of the relevant student. Nothing in this specification should be construed as requiring implementation or use of digital signature features embedded in individual PDF documents pursuant to the PDF specification. Rather, the data integrity and origin identity of all components in a school transcript --- including the PDF display transcript --- are adequately protected by the OpenPGP signature of the transcript
originator, required by this specification. Accordingly, implementation of PDF-specific signature features is optional and largely unwarranted; although transcript recipients MUST accept transcripts that include PDF signatures, recipients SHOULD neither verify nor depend upon the embedded signatures themselves. Transcript originators MUST NOT use the encryption features described in the PDF specification to encrypt a display school transcript. The OpenPGP encryption mechanisms specified in Section 6 below adequately protect the confidentiality of student information while in transit. Thus, separately encrypting the display transcript is redundant. Double encryption increases implementation complexity while also increasing security risk by requiring additional key distributions. Transcript recipients MUST NOT accept or process school transcripts for which the PDF display component is independently encrypted. Previous work [RFC3778] identifies security considerations arising from using the PDF as a MIME media type. Among these considerations is that PDF documents may include executable "scripts" or references to external, executable plug-in modules. Including arbitrary executable programs (or references thereto) in a PDF transcript document poses a security risk to transcript recipients. Digitally signing PDF documents (or even the transcripts that contain them) does not help transcript recipients to evaluate the safety of executing any embedded programs or plug-ins. The primary purpose of using PDF is to present static transcript information in an attractive format for human review. Because this limited purpose is admirably served without embedding executable elements in PDF files, any risk posed by their inclusion is unwarranted. Accordingly, transcript originators MUST NOT include in a PDF display transcript any executable scripts or external plug-in references. In order to preclude execution of untrusted programs on their local system, transcript recipients SHOULD use only trusted tools to process and view display transcripts. The representation of a display school transcript SHOULD NOT include any header fields beyond those enumerated in the specification for the format of MIME message bodies [RFC2045].