Network Working Group R. Bush Request for Comments: 3967 IIJ BCP: 97 T. Narten Category: Best Current Practice IBM Corporation December 2004 Clarifying when Standards Track Documents may Refer Normatively to Documents at a Lower Level Status of this Memo This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for improvements. Distribution of this memo is unlimited. Copyright Notice Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).
AbstractIETF procedures generally require that a standards track RFC may not have a normative reference to another standards track document at a lower maturity level or to a non standards track specification (other than specifications from other standards bodies). For example, a standards track document may not have a normative reference to an informational RFC. Exceptions to this rule are sometimes needed as the IETF uses informational RFCs to describe non-IETF standards or IETF-specific modes of use of such standards. This document clarifies and updates the procedure used in these circumstances. RFC2026] Section 4.2.4 specifies the following: Standards track specifications normally must not depend on other standards track specifications which are at a lower maturity level or on non standards track specifications other than referenced specifications from other standards bodies. One intent is to avoid creating a perception that a standard is more mature than it actually is.
The referenced specification would likely include details about specific key management requirements, which transforms are required and which are optional, etc. - In MIB documents, an IMPORTS clause by definition is a normative reference. - When a reference to an example is made, such a reference need not be normative. For example, text such as "an algorithm such as the one specified in [RFCxxxx] would be acceptable" indicates an informative reference, since that cited algorithm is just one of several possible algorithms that could be used. Section 4.2.4 of [RFC2026]. For example: o A standards track document may need to refer to a protocol or algorithm developed by an external body but modified, adapted, or profiled by an IETF informational RFC, for example, MD5 [RFC1321] and HMAC [RFC2104]. Note that this does not override the IETF's duty to see that the specification is indeed sufficiently clear to enable creation of interoperable implementations. o A standards document may need to refer to a proprietary protocol, and the IETF normally documents proprietary protocols using informational RFCs. o A migration or co-existence document may need to define a standards track mechanism for migration from, and/or co-existence with, an historic protocol, a proprietary protocol, or possibly a non-standards track protocol. o There are exceptional procedural or legal reasons that force the target of the normative reference to be an informational or historical RFC or to be at a lower standards level than the referring document. o A BCP document may want to describe best current practices for experimental or informational specifications.
RFC1321] and HMAC [RFC2104] is well known among cryptographers. This procedure should not be used if the proper step is to move the document to which the reference is being made into the appropriate category. It is not intended as an easy way out of normal process. Rather, the procedure is intended for dealing with specific cases where putting particular documents into the required category is problematic and unlikely ever to happen.
[RFC2026] Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996. [RFC1818] Postel, J., Li, T., and Y. Rekhter, "Best Current Practices", BCP 1, RFC 1818, August 1995. [RFC1321] Rivest, R., "The MD5 Message-Digest Algorithm", RFC 1321, April 1992. [RFC2104] Krawczyk, H., Bellare, M., and R. Canetti, "HMAC: Keyed-Hashing for Message Authentication", RFC 2104, February 1997. http://psg.com/~randy/ Thomas Narten IBM Corporation P.O. Box 12195 Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2195 US Phone: +1 919 254 7798 EMail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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