A technical working group at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) voted last weekend to veto a Microsoft proposal that identifies the source of email messages. The IETF's MTA Authorization Records in DNS (MARID) working group said that Microsoft's proposal is too secretive and that the software giant refused to identify a possible related patent application for its proposed technology.
"The working group has at least \[reached a\] rough consensus that the patent claims should not be ignored," Working Group Chair Andrew L. Newton said in a discussion forum. "It is the opinion of the co-chairs that MARID should not undertake work on alternate algorithms reasonably thought to be covered by the patent application. The objection is based on questions of deployment caused by incompatibilities with open-source licenses. However, there were also a significant number of responses from participants stating that they had no such deployment issues."
Microsoft's suddenly controversial email-identification technology, Purported Responsible Address (PRA), is similar to a competing technology called Sender Policy Framework (SPF). Email providers can publish PRA and SPF information so that email clients and servers can verify the authenticity of email messages, and Microsoft says that its own services will continue to provide PRA and SPF information. The bigger problem for Microsoft is that PRA is part of the company's Sender ID proposal, which Microsoft would like to see accepted as an Internet standard. Until the PRA patent questions are resolved, however, the IETF will likely be able to block that attempt.