Publicly Verifiable Nominations Committee (NomCom) Random Selection
RFC 3797

Document Type RFC - Informational (June 2004; No errata)
Obsoletes RFC 2777
Was draft-eastlake-rfc2777bis-selection (individual in gen area)
Last updated 2015-10-14
Stream IETF
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IESG IESG state RFC 3797 (Informational)
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Network Working Group                                    D. Eastlake 3rd
Request for Comments: 3797                         Motorola Laboratories
Obsoletes: 2777                                                June 2004
Category: Informational

  Publicly Verifiable Nominations Committee (NomCom) Random Selection

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 (2004).

Abstract

   This document describes a method for making random selections in such
   a way that the unbiased nature of the choice is publicly verifiable.
   As an example, the selection of the voting members of the IETF
   Nominations Committee (NomCom) from the pool of eligible volunteers
   is used.  Similar techniques would be applicable to other cases.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
   2. General Flow of a Publicly Verifiable Process . . . . . . . . .  2
      2.1.  Determination of the Pool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
      2.2.  Publication of the Algorithm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
      2.3.  Publication of Selection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   3. Randomness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
      3.1.  Sources of Randomness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
      3.2.  Skew. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
      3.3.  Entropy Needed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   4. A Suggested Precise Algorithm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   5. Handling Real World Problems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
      5.1.  Uncertainty as to the Pool. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
      5.2.  Randomness Ambiguities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   6. Fully Worked Example. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   7. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   8. Reference Code. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   Appendix A: History of NomCom Member Selection . . . . . . . . . . 16
   Appendix B: Changes from RFC 2777. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

Eastlake 3rd                 Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 3797              Verifiable Random Selection              June 2004

   References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
      Normative References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
      Informative References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
   Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

1.  Introduction

   Under the IETF rules, each year ten people are randomly selected from
   among eligible volunteers to be the voting members of the IETF
   nominations committee (NomCom).  The NomCom nominates members of the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) and the Internet
   Architecture Board (IAB) as described in [RFC 3777].  The number of
   eligible volunteers in recent years has been around 100.

   It is highly desirable that the random selection of the voting NomCom
   be done in an unimpeachable fashion so that no reasonable charges of
   bias or favoritism can be brought.  This is as much for the
   protection of the selection administrator (currently, the appointed
   non-voting NomCom chair) from suspicion of bias as it is for the
   protection of the IETF.

   A method such that public information will enable any person to
   verify the randomness of the selection meets this criterion.  This
   document gives an example of such a method.

   The method, in the form it appears in RFC 2777, was also used by IANA
   in February 2003 to determine the ACE prefix for Internationalized
   Domain Names [RFC 3490] so as to avoid claim jumping.

2.  General Flow of a Publicly Verifiable Process

   A selection of NomCom members publicly verifiable as unbiased or
   similar selection could follow the three steps given below.

2.1.  Determination of the Pool

   First, determine the pool from which the selection is to be made as
   provided in [RFC 3777] or its successor.

   Volunteers are solicited by the selection administrator.  Their names
   are then passed through the IETF Secretariat to check eligibility.
   (Current eligibility criteria relate to IETF meeting attendance,
   records of which are maintained by the Secretariat.)  The full list
   of eligible volunteers is made public early enough that a reasonable
   time can be given to resolve any disputes as to who should be in the
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