Email Address Internationalization                        Y. YONEYA, Ed.
(EAI)                                                   K. Fujiwara, Ed.
Internet-Draft                                                      JPRS
Expires: November 27, 2006                                  May 26, 2006

    Downgrading mechanism for Internationalized eMail Address (IMA)

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2006).


   Traditional mail system handles only US-ASCII characters in SMTP
   envelope and mail headers.  The Internationalized eMail Address (IMA)
   is implemented by allowing UTF-8 characters in SMTP envelope and mail
   headers.  To deliver IMA through IMA incompliant environment, some
   sort of converting mechanism (i.e. downgrading) is required.  This
   document describes requirements for downgrading, SMTP session
   downgrading, header downgrading and implementation consideration.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Terminology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   3.  Downgrade Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     3.1.  Timing and conditions of downgrading . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     3.2.  Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   4.  SMTP Downgrading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   5.  SMTP DATA/Header downgrading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     5.1.  No header downgrading  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     5.2.  Downgrading with MIME encapsulation  . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     5.3.  Header conversion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     5.4.  Translating each header  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   6.  Implementation consideration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     6.1.  MUA  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     6.2.  MDA Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   7.  Security considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   8.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   9.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   10. Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . . . . 14

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1.  Introduction

   Traditional mail system which is defined by [RFC2821] and [RFC2822]
   allows US-ASCII characters in SMTP envelop and mail headers.  IMA
   proposal [IMA-overview],[IMA-UTF8], [IMA-SMTPext] allows UTF-8
   characters in SMTP envelop and mail headers.

   Carrying IMA from sender to recipients requires all components on the
   mail delivery route are IMA compliant.  Otherwise IMA can't be
   delivered.  To solve the problem, this document describes downgrading
   mechanism that enables delivering IMA by converting it to
   corresponding US-ASCII representation on current mail delivery
   system.  Not only SMTP envelope, but also UTF-8 in mail headers MUST
   be converted to US-ASCII.

   Downgrading in IMA consists from following two parts:
   o  SMTP session downgrade
   o  header downgrade

   Decoding downgraded envelope/message is called 'Upgrading' in this
   document.  Each downgrading mechanism has corresponding upgrading

   In this document, requirements for downgrading is described in
   section Section 3, SMTP session downgrade is described in Section 4,
   and header downgrade is described in Section 5.

2.  Terminology

   This document assumes a reasonable understanding of the protocols and
   terminology of the core email standards as documented in [RFC2821]
   and [RFC2822].

   Much of the description in this document depends on the abstractions
   of "Mail Transfer Agent" ("MTA") and "Mail User Agent" ("MUA").
   However, it is important to understand that those terms and the
   underlying concepts postdate the design of the Internet's email
   architecture and the "protocols on the wire" principle.  That email
   architecture, as it has evolved, and the "wire" principle have
   prevented any strong and standardized distinctions about how MTAs and
   MUAs interact on a given origin or destination host (or even whether
   they are separate).

   The final ("delivery") MTA stores Mail messages in a "message store"
   or resends messages where the receiver has assigned.  In this
   document, this function is called Mail Delivery Agent(MDA).

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   In this document, an address is "all-ASCII" if every character in the
   address is in the ASCII character repertoire [ASCII]; an address is
   "non-ASCII" if any character is not in the ASCII character
   repertoire.  The term "all-ASCII" is also applied to other protocol
   elements when the distinction is important, with "non-ASCII" or
   "internationalized" as its opposite.

   The key words "MUST", "SHALL", "REQUIRED", "SHOULD", "RECOMMENDED",
   and "MAY" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC
   2119 [RFC2119].

3.  Downgrade Requirements

3.1.  Timing and conditions of downgrading

   This section describes timing and conditions of downgrading.
   o  Timing: SMTP client detects SMTP server doesn't support "IEmail"
      option at EHLO.  [IMA-SMTPext]
   o  Conditions: SMTP client detects that UTF-8 is included in SMTP
      envelope or mail headers.

   Note: If the i18n-email header exists, downgrading will be performed.
   If UTF-8 headers are present without the i18n-email header, this is a
   protocol error, and handling of this situation is outside the scope
   of this specification.

3.2.  Requirements

   1.  Downgrading must be performed only once.
   2.  Upgrading must be performed at minimized place such as final
       destination like recipient MUA.
   3.  Downgrading and decoding must be automated.
   4.  Downgrading and decoding should be easy and lightweight as it is
       possible to do with MTA like 8BITMIME encapsulation.
   5.  Downgrade and upgrade method must be defined clearly.
   6.  Downgrading and decoding should preserve all header information.
   7.  Downgrading must support SPF and DKIM.
   8.  Downgrading occurrence must be recorded.

4.  SMTP Downgrading

   Downgrading MUST be performed in each SMTP session.  Target of
   downgrading elements in SMTP envelope are below:

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   o  MAIL FROM:
   o  RCPT TO:

   Downgrading in SMTP envelope uses ALT-ADDR and ATOMIC option proposed
   in [IMA-SMTPext].

   If downgrading is expected, mail sender MUA MUST append ALT-ADDR or
   ATOMIC option to all IMA envelope addresses to denote alternative US-
   ASCII address when sending mail.

   When MUA/MTA is transferring mail and finding its envelope is IMA, it
   MUST decide to bounce or downgrade if receiving MTA is IMA

   Both ALT-ADDR parameter and ATOMIC parameter is specified in one
   envelope from/to, use ALT-ADDR parameter and ignore ATOMIC parameter.

   Further, even if no downgrading is performed for envelope from/to,
   MUA/MTA MUST downgrade headers including UTF-8 or bounce.  This is
   described in next section.

   MTA MAY downgrade messages that envelope from/to of IMA have ALT-ADDR
   with alternative US-ASCII address or ATOMIC is "y".

   MTA generates alternative US-ASCII address when ALT-ADDR option is
   not specified and ATOMIC is "y".

   Alternative US-ASCII address generation algorithms are below:
   domain-part: Punycode/IDNA [RFC3490]
   local-part: Punycode[RFC3492] without normalization.  Prefix MUST be
      assigned by IANA (which is not "xn--").

   MTA replaces IMA with specified or generated alternative US-ASCII
   address.  Then appends replaced information with IMA-Downgraded-From
   and IMA-Downgraded-To header in mail header (outgoing SMTP DATA).
      IMA-Downgraded-From: <IMA> <US-ASCII>
      IMA-Downgraded-To: <IMA> <US-ASCII>

   Note that when downgrading, not to disclose whole recipient address,
   MUA/MTA SHOULD make SMTP connection per each recipient address.

   Also note that by appending IMA-Downgraded-From/To headers, MUA/MTA
   MUST perform SMTP/Header downgrading.  This is described in next

   Downgraded envelope to is parsed only in MDA and delivered to final

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   Case study: SPF check

   SPF checks envelope from's domainname and smtp connection IP address.
   If ALT-ADDR's domainname is Punycode/IDNA of IMA domainname, it is
   equal to SPF/IMA (need to define).  In this case, SPF check will be
   performed correctly.  Otherwise, more detailed consideration is

5.  SMTP DATA/Header downgrading

   In this section, four methods for SMTP DATA/Header downgrading is
   proposed.  Working group should select one.

   o  No header downgrading
   o  Encapsulating whole SMTP DATA
   o  Translating each header
   o  Encapsulating each header

   Target and non-target of downgrading elements in mail headers (SMTP
   data) are below:

   Originator address(es): IMA in From, Reply-To, Sender and their
      Resent- headers MUST be target of downgrading.
   Destination address(es): IMA in To, CC, Bcc and their Resent- headers
      MUST be target of downgrading.
   IDs: IDs such as Message-ID, Date, In-Reply-To and References MUST
      NOT be target of downgrading.
   Trace headers: Received headers which contains IMA MUST be target of
   other headers: UTF-8 in other headers MUST be target of downgrading.

   Rewriting Received header is prohibited in [RFC2821] Section 4.4
   Trace field.  But downgrading may be considered as the 'Mail
   Gatewaying' which is described in [RFC2821] Section 3.8.  If it is
   true, these downgrading methods are acceptable.

5.1.  No header downgrading

   Most MTAs support 8bit characters in mail headers.  Currently, mail
   systems in some countries or languages use raw 8bit header value in
   their local encoding.  This method does not care about using UTF-8
   headers in existing mail systems.

   This method may break existing mail infrastructure.

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5.2.  Downgrading with MIME encapsulation

   This downgrade method requires new MIME 'Content-Type:' which express
   EAI(Email Address Internationalization).  This document assumes
   'Content-Type: Message/EAI' existence.

      *  If mail header contains UTF-8 data, downgrade whole message to
         be MIME encoded.  Whole message becomes new MIME part (Message/
      *  Originator Addresses (From, Sender, etc.), Destination
         Addresses (To, CC, etc.), IDs (Message-ID, etc.), Subject, Date
         headers are copied from original header.
      *  If From header contains IMA, it is replaced with downgraded
      *  If To or CC headers contain IMA, they are replaced with single
         downgraded envelope-to as To header.
      *  If Subject header contains UTF-8, it is replaced to a certain
         message or encoded by RFC2047.
      *  Message-ID, Date headers are preserved.
      As a result, new body contains one new MIME part (Message/EAI).

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      Encoding example

   Message-Id: MESSAGE_ID
   Mime-Version: 1.0
   Content-Type: Multipart/Mixed;
   Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
   Date: DATE

   Content-Type: Message/EAI
   Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
   Content-Disposition: inline

   IMA-Downgraded-From: <IMA> <DOWNGRADED_FROM>
   IMA-Downgraded-To: <IMA> <DOWNGRADED_TO>
   Received: ... for IMA
   Received: ... for IMA
   Message-Id: MESSAGE_ID
   Mime-Version: 1.0
   Subject: UTF-8_SUBJECT
   From: IMA
   To: IMA
   Date: DATE



      Figure 1

      *  If mail message contains only one MIME part and its Content-
         Type is 'Message/EAI', it may be a downgraded message.  To
         check if downgraded, compare mail body's message-id and MIME
         part's message-id.  If message-ids are the same, it is
         downgraded message.  Then, treat MIME part as entire mail
      *  When checking trace field, checker SHOULD check Received header
         both in wrapping headers and headers in encapsulated part.

   Case study: DKIM

   DKIM checker performs decoding downgraded message first.

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      *  MTA does not need to decode each headers carefully.
      *  Whole headers can be submitted AS IS.
      *  IMA from/to can not distinguish from encoded mail headers.
      *  IMA incompliant MUA can not treat encoded message.

5.3.  Header conversion

   Define conversion method to US-ASCII for all headers which contains

   Each header has its own downgrading method.  Basically, MIME encoding
   of RFC 2047.  Recipient/Sender addresses and Received headers which
   may contain IMA need special processing.

      From, To, CC, Resent-From, Resent-To headers which contains
      Originator/Destination address(es): Extract every addr-spec
         [RFC2822] of mailboxes which includes UTF-8 characters.  For
         each addr-spec, if it includes UTF-8, convert it into ACE with
         the same method described in Section 4.  Original IMA SHOULD
         remain as a comment encoded by MIME with UTF-8 tag [RFC2047].
         Note that some special characters in addr-spec MUST be escaped.
         If mailbox elements except for addr-spec include UTF-8, those
         MUST be encoded by base64 with UTF-8 tag.
      Downgrading other header: Encode UTF-8 characters of headers by
         MIME with UTF-8 tag [RFC2047].

   Upgrading: If each mail header has [RFC2047] encoded part and which
      encoding is "UTF-8", it is downgraded header.

      *  IMA incompliant MUA can display mail body except for original
         IMA from/to.
      *  Implementation is difficult because MUA/MTA must parse each
         header and encode it by defined method.
      *  Hard to preserve whole information AS IS.  Therefore, to check
         DKIM requires special consideration.

5.4.  Translating each header

   Define generic encapsulation header: "Downgraded: HeaderName:
   HeaderValue".  Header value is encoded in [RFC2047] with UTF-8 tag.

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         All headers which contains UTF-8 characters are encapsulated to
         generic encapsulation header.  There is no special handling for
         recipient/sender addresses in From, To, CC, Resent-* headers.
         Received headers need special consideration.
         If downgrading process encapsulates From header, downgrade
         process should generate From header from the envelope from
         address with downgraded mark in comment field.
         If downgrading process encapsulates all To, CC headers,
         downgrade process should generate To header from the envelope
         to address with downgraded mark in comment field.

         If each mail header has [RFC2047] encoded part and which
         encoding is "UTF-8", it is downgraded header and the upgrading
         process decode this header.

      *  IMA incompliant MUA can display mail body except for original
         IMA from/to.
      *  Implementation is easier than Section 5.3
      *  This method may break [RFC2821] [RFC2821].
      *  Hard to preserve whole information AS IS.  Therefore, to check
         DKIM requires special consideration.

6.  Implementation consideration

6.1.  MUA

   IMA compliant MUA MUST implement downgrade mechanism for sending.

   MUA MAY encode UTF-8 in Subject header with the same encoding of body
   part while downgrading.

   IMA compliant MUA MUST decode downgraded mail and MUST show IMA on

6.2.  MDA Requirements

   This section describes downgrading in MDA.
   1.  MDA MUST NOT convert downgraded header to UTF-8.
   2.  Record Return-Path header in ACE form.
   3.  Perform downgrading for each Storage/Back-end-Process.  If and
       only if MDA knows MUA is IMA compliant, then no downgrading is

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   4.  If MDA detects that SMTP recipient address is downgraded IMA,
       then MDA MUST decode IMA and perform the same processing as if it
       were IMA.  MDA MAY normalize or canonicalize local-part before
       processing it.

7.  Security considerations

   See the extended security considerations discussion in [IMA-overview]

8.  IANA Considerations

   To distinguish downgraded IMA in ACE form, it MUST have ACE-Prefix.
   The ACE-Prefix MUST differ from IDNA ACE-Prefix to avoid possible
   confusion.  IANA will assign IMA ACE-Prefix when RFC is published.

9.  Acknowledgements

   John Klensin, Harald Alvestrand, Chris Newman, Charles Lindsey,
   Marcos Sanz, Alexey Melnikov, and JET members.

10.  Normative References

   [ASCII]    American National Standards Institute (formerly United
              States of America Standards Institute), "USA Code for
              Information Interchange", ANSI X3.4-1968, 1968.

              ANSI X3.4-1968 has been replaced by newer versions with
              slight modifications, but the 1968 version remains
              definitive for the Internet.

              Hoffman, P. and A. Costello, "Internationalizing Mail
              Addresses in Applications (IMAA)", draft-hoffman-imaa-03
              (work in progress), October 2003.

              Klensin, J., "Internationalization in Internet
              Applications: Issues, Tradeoffs, and Email Addresses",
              draft-klensin-ima-constraints-00 (work in progress),
              Febrary 2006.

              Yao, J., Ed., "SMTP extension for internationalized email
              address", draft-ietf-eai-smtpext-00 (work in progress),
              Febrary 2006.

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              Yeh, J., "Internationalized Email Headers",
              draft-yeh-ima-utf8headers-01 (work in progress),
              February 2006.

              Klensin, J. and Y. Ko, "Overview and Framework for
              Internationalized Email", draft-ietf-eai-framework-00
              (work in progress), May 2006.

   [JET-IMA]  Yao, J. and J. Yeh, "Internationalized eMail Address
              (IMA)", draft-lee-jet-ima-00 (work in progress),
              June 2005.

              Klensin, J., "Internationalization of Email Addresses",
              draft-klensin-emailaddr-i18n-03 (work in progress),
              July 2005.

   [RFC1123]  Braden, R., "Requirements for Internet Hosts - Application
              and Support", STD 3, RFC 1123, October 1989.

   [RFC1651]  Klensin, J., Freed, N., Rose, M., Stefferud, E., and D.
              Crocker, "SMTP Service Extensions", RFC 1651, July 1994.

   [RFC2047]  Moore, K., "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
              Part Three: Message Header Extensions for Non-ASCII Text",
              RFC 2047, November 1996.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC2821]  Klensin, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", RFC 2821,
              April 2001.

   [RFC2822]  Resnick, P., "Internet Message Format", RFC 2822,
              April 2001.

   [RFC3490]  Faltstrom, P., Hoffman, P., and A. Costello,
              "Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications (IDNA)",
              RFC 3490, March 2003.

   [RFC3492]  Costello, A., "Punycode: A Bootstring encoding of Unicode
              for Internationalized Domain Names in Applications
              (IDNA)", RFC 3492, March 2003.

   [RFC3629]  Yergeau, F., "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO
              10646", STD 63, RFC 3629, November 2003.

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Authors' Addresses

   Yoshiro YONEYA (editor)
   Chiyoda First Bldg. East 13F, 3-8-1 Nishi-Kanda
   Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo  101-0065

   Phone: +81 3 5215 8451

   Kazunori Fujiwara (editor)
   Chiyoda First Bldg. East 13F, 3-8-1 Nishi-Kanda
   Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo  101-0065

   Phone: +81 3 5215 8451

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