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MAC Address Device Identification for Network and Application Services (madinas)

WG Name MAC Address Device Identification for Network and Application Services
Acronym madinas
Area Internet Area (int)
State Active
Charter charter-ietf-madinas-01 Approved
Document dependencies
Additional resources GitHub Organization
IPJ article on MADINAS: WiFi Privacy
Zulip stream
Personnel Chairs Carlos J. Bernardos, Juan-Carlos Zúñiga
Area Director Éric Vyncke
Delegate Mathieu Cunche
Mailing list Address
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Charter for Working Group

The Medium Access Control (MAC) address is the Link Layer address used in IEEE 802 technologies. It was originally assigned statically for each physical network card by the Network Interface Card manufacturer, out of the space reserved by the IEEE Registration Authority Committee (RAC) for globally unique MAC addresses. The MAC address is used as source or destination target when sending and receiving frames. The default static assignment of the MAC address raises privacy concerns for personal devices. These concerns have recently started to be mitigated by SDOs specifying the use of Randomized and Changing MAC addresses (RCM) and end-device vendors implementing RCM.

Device identity is important in scenarios where the network needs to know the device or user identity in order to offer, operate and maintain certain services. Currently, many use cases and applications make an implicit assumption that a device is represented by an IEEE 802 Layer 2 permanent and unique MAC address. This assumption is being used in both control plane and data plane functions and protocols. RCM breaks this assumption. This requires updating applications to function across MAC address changes.

The MADINAS Working Group will document the current RCM state of affairs by :

(i) identifying relevant network and application services scenarios and examining the effect of RCM schemes on them;

(ii) analyzing various existing identifiers (i.e., beyond the MAC address) that can be used by the network to provide seamless services, and

(iii) identifying scenarios where device identity is not required.

The group will generate a Best Current Practices (BCP) document recommending means to reduce the impact of RCM on the documented use cases while ensuring that the privacy achieved with RCM is not compromised. For scenarios where device identity stability is desirable, the BCP document will recommend existing protocols that can be used to protect the request and exchange of identifiers between the client and the service provider.

The Working Group will work together with other IETF WGs (e.g., DHC, IntArea), and will liaise with other relevant organizations, such as IEEE 802 and the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), by coordinating on the different recommendations, as well as potential follow-up activities within or outside the IETF.

MADINAS is expected to be a short timeframe (12-18 months) Working Group to quickly assess these needs. Additional solution space documents would only be published if identified as necessary, requiring a rechartering process in coordination with other relevant SDOs.

The group will produce the following deliverables:

  1. Document Current State of Affairs:
    An Informational use cases and identity requirements document
    An Informational MAC Address Randomization current state-of-affairs document

  2. Document Best Practices handling RCM
    A Best Current Practices document


Date Milestone Associated documents
Mar 2023 Best Current Practices handling RCM document submitted to the IESG for publication
Sep 2022 Use Cases and Identity Requirements (informational) document submitted to the IESG for publication
Jun 2022 MAC Address Randomization current state-of-affairs (informational) document submitted to the IESG for publication