Network Working Group H. Alvestrand
Request for Comments: 2148 UNINETT
BCP: 15 P. Jurg
Category: Best Current Practice SURFnet
Deployment of the Internet White Pages Service
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.
1. Summary and recommendations
This document makes the following recommendations for organizations
on the Internet:
(1) An organization SHOULD publish public E-mail addresses and
other public address information about Internet users
within their site.
(2) Most countries have laws concerning publication of
information about persons. Above and beyond these, the
organization SHOULD follow the recommendations of .
(3) The currently preferable way for publishing the information
is by using X.500 as its data structure and naming scheme
(defined in  and discussed in , but some countries
use a refinement nationally, like  for the US). The
organization MAY additionally publish it using additional
data structures such as whois++.
(4) The organization SHOULD make the published information
available to LDAP clients, by allowing LDAP servers access
to their data".
(5) The organization SHOULD NOT attempt to charge for simple
access to the data.
In addition, it makes the following recommendations for various and
sundry other parties:
(1) E-mail vendors SHOULD include LDAP lookup functionality
into their products, either as built-in functionality or by
providing translation facilities.
Alvestrand & Jurg Best Current Practice [Page 1]RFC 2148 Internet White Pages Service September 1997
(2) Internet Service providers SHOULD help smaller
organizations follow this recommendation, either by providing
services for hosting their data, by helping them find other
parties to do so, or by helping them bring their own service
(3) All interested parties SHOULD make sure there exists a core
X.500 name space in the world, and that all names in this
name space are resolvable. (National name spaces may
elobarate on the core name space).
The rest of this document is justification and details for this
The words "SHOULD", "MUST" and "MAY", when written in UPPER CASE,
have the meaning defined in RFC 2119 
The Internet is used for information exchange and communication
between its users. It can only be effective as such if users are able
to find each other's addresses. Therefore the Internet benefits from
an adequate White Pages Service, i.e., a directory service offering
(Internet) address information related to people and organizations.
This document describes the way in which the Internet White Pages
Service (from now on abbreviated as IWPS) is best exploited using
today's experience, today's protocols, today's products and today's
Experience  has shown that a White Pages Service based on self-
registration of users or on centralized servers tends to gather data
in a haphazard fashion, and, moreover, collects data that ages
rapidly and is not kept up to date.
The most vital attempts to establish the IWPS are based on models
with distributed (local) databases each holding a manageable part of
the IWPS information. Such a part mostly consists of all relevant
IWPS information from within a particular organization or from within
an Internet service provider and its users. On top of the databases
there is a directory services protocol that connects them and
provides user access. Today X.500 is the most popular directory
services protocol on the Internet, connecting the address information
of about 1,5 million individuals and 3,000 organizations. Whois++ is
the second popular protocol. X.500 and Whois++ may also be used to
interconnect other information than only IWPS information, but here
we only discuss the IWPS features.
Alvestrand & Jurg Best Current Practice [Page 2]RFC 2148 Internet White Pages Service September 1997
Note: there are other, not interconnected, address databases on the