AOL to Support Sender ID E-Mail Standard

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-10-25 Print this article Print

Changes to the standard after the blowup of the MARID working group have appeased the online giant.

America Online Inc. will support a new, modified version of the Sender ID e-mail authentication specification that is being submitted to the IETF for consideration Monday. The Sender ID specification had been in limbo since the collapse of the MARID working group in September. A new version of Sender ID, modified to address concerned such as AOLs, is being submitted Monday to the IETF by SPF author Meng Wong and Microsoft.

AOL had rejected a previous version of Sender ID because it lacked backward compatibility for version 1 of the SPF standard, also known as SPF Classic, which AOL had begun to support many months before.
The new version puts the original SPF syntax, specifically support for "mail-from" checking, back into the core specification.

"Specifically, this now allows those of us who have been testing an e-mail authentication technology known as SPF—or Sender Policy Framework—to be included in the Sender ID specification moving forward," AOL said in a statement. "This means that the over 100,000 domains publishing SPF v1 records—including AOL—will not need to change their DNS listings."

AOL also plans to begin testing using Microsofts algorithm for determination of the "purportedly responsible address" or PRA, as well as many other proposed specifications. This is different from "mail-from."

The new version of the specification does not address the objections of many over Microsofts intellectual property claims for the PRA algorithm, but users may implement the SPF Classic half of the specification without implementing the more controversial PRA detection. This has left many people as dissatisfied with the new proposal as they were with the old, citing technical objections and a desire to keep the process as far from Microsofts input as possible.

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Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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