Handle System Overview
RFC 3650

Document Type RFC - Informational (November 2003; Errata)
Last updated 2015-10-14
Stream ISE
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Stream ISE state (None)
Consensus Boilerplate Unknown
Document shepherd No shepherd assigned
IESG IESG state RFC 3650 (Informational)
Telechat date
Responsible AD Ted Hardie
IESG note It is suggested that these go forward with the following
IESG Note attached (originally drafted by Patrik): IESG NOTE: The IETF and IRTF have discussed the Handle system in the realm
of URI-related work. The IESG wishes to point out that there
is no IETF consensus on the current Handle system nor on
where it fits in the IETF architecture. The IESG is of the view that
the Handle system would be able to, with very small changes,
fit into the IETF architecture as a URN namespace. These documents,
however, contain information on the Handle system without these changes.
Send notices to (None)
Network Working Group                                             S. Sun
Request for Comments: 3650                                     L. Lannom
Category: Informational                                        B. Boesch
                                                                    CNRI
                                                           November 2003

                        Handle System Overview

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003).  All Rights Reserved.

IESG Note

   Several groups within the IETF and IRTF have discussed the Handle
   System and its relationship to existing systems of identifiers.  The
   IESG wishes to point out that these discussions have not resulted in
   IETF consensus on the described Handle System, nor on how it might
   fit into the IETF architecture for identifiers.  Though there has
   been discussion of handles as a form of URI, specifically as a URN,
   these documents describe an alternate view of how namespaces and
   identifiers might work on the Internet and include characterizations
   of existing systems which may not match the IETF consensus view.

Abstract

   This document provides an overview of the Handle System in terms of
   its namespace and service architecture, as well as its relationship
   to other Internet services such as DNS, LDAP/X.500, and URNs.  The
   Handle System is a general-purpose global name service that allows
   secured name resolution and administration over networks such as the
   Internet.  The Handle System manages handles, which are unique names
   for digital objects and other Internet resources.

Sun, et al.                  Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 3650                 Handle System Overview            November 2003

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
   2.  Motivations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   3.  Handle Namespace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   4.  Handle System Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   5.  Handle System Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   6.  The Handle System and other Internet Services. . . . . . . . . 12
       6.1.  Domain Name Service (DNS). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
       6.2.  Directory Services (X.500/LDAP). . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
       6.3.  Uniform Resource Identifier (URI)/Uniform Resource Name
             (URN). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
   7.  Security Considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
       7.1.  General Security Practice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
       7.2.  Privacy Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
       7.3.  Caching and Proxy Servers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
       7.4.  Mirroring. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
       7.5.  Denial of Service (DoS). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
   8.  History of the Handle System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   9.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   10. References and Bibliography. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
   11. Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
   12. Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

1.  Introduction

   This document provides an overview of the Handle System, a
   distributed information system designed to provide an efficient,
   extensible, and secured global name service for use on networks such
   as the Internet.  The Handle System includes an open protocol, a
   namespace, and a reference implementation of the protocol.  The
   protocol enables a distributed computer system to store names, or
   handles, of digital resources and resolve those handles into the
   information necessary to locate, access, and otherwise make use of
   the resources.  These associated values can be changed as needed to
   reflect the current state of the identified resource without changing
   the handle.  This allows the name of the item to persist over changes
   of location and other current state information.  Each handle may
   have its own administrator(s) and administration can be done in a
   distributed environment.  The Handle System supports secured handle
   resolution.  Security services such as data confidentiality, data
   integrity, and non-repudiation are provided upon client request.

   The Handle System provides a confederated name service that allows
   any existing local namespace to join the global handle namespace by
   obtaining a unique Handle System naming authority.  Local names and
   their value-binding(s) remains intact after joining the Handle
   System.  Any handle request to the local namespace may be processed
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