[Servercert-wg] [EXTERNAL] Ballot SC23: Precertificates

Ryan Sleevi sleevi at google.com
Tue Oct 22 17:54:26 MST 2019

While I want to assume good faith here, and assume it was based on
unfamiliarity with the IETF process, I'm deeply concerned about the nature
of the question. The Baseline Requirements are fundamentally a profile
based on a number of RFCs - RFC 3647 and RFC 5280, most notably. The
ability to accomplish anything, within this Forum, requires deep
understanding of the technical basis for how CAs are operated and how the
Baseline Requirements are defined. My hope is that your colleagues at
Entrust Datacard will be able to provide sufficient explanation here to
explain why this assertion doesn't make sense, and why the questions are
similarly concerning.

Section 1.6.3 of the Baseline Requirements details the various external
documents like an RFC that the BRs are built-upon, as well as a host of
external documents. This is essential knowledge for any publicly trusted
CA, and certainly essential for the requirements in the Baseline

The question of the IETF process is, understandably, more subtle, but
similarly essential to obtaining the correct and desired result from a CA
that may be or is trusted. I don't want to discourage questions, as those
are very welcome, but the categorical statement associated with the
questions is part of the concern.

The IETF process can be further read and understood at
https://www.ietf.org/standards/process/ , but the abridged version is that
an RFC is a stable identifier. It is the versioned document itself. If it
is subsequently replaced (e.g. v2), then a new RFC number is assigned. If
the RFC is defined extensibly, it may be updated - however, those updates
appear in a new RFC, and they reference the existing RFC.

This model is what allows, for example, CAs to issue certificates for RSA
or ECC keys, which are not directly addressed within RFC 5280. It is
similarly the model that allows CAs to issue certificates with
organizationIdentifier fields, which are not directly addressed within RFC

I hope you can see this concern is unfounded, and already extensively part
of the BRs, as it is the very foundation of the Baseline Requirements

On Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 8:23 PM Kirk Hall <Kirk.Hall at entrustdatacard.com>

> It’s problematic for the BRs to refer to an external document like an
> RFC.  Which version of the RFC – the one in effect when the ballot is
> adopted (that is usually the rule with statutory construction)?  Or would
> we be saying the BRs will automatically follow any future changes to the
> RFC – which we may not like?
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