Network Working Group                                       G. Vaudreuil
Request for Comments: 1892                        Octel Network Services
Category: Standards Track                                   January 1996

                   The Multipart/Report Content Type
                          for the Reporting of
                  Mail System Administrative Messages

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

1. The Multipart/Report MIME content-type

   The Multipart/Report MIME content-type is a general "family" or
   "container" type for electronic mail reports of any kind. Although
   this memo defines only the use of the Multipart/Report content-type
   with respect to delivery status reports, mail processing programs
   will benefit if a single content-type is used to for all kinds of

   The Multipart/Report content-type is defined as follows:

             MIME type name: multipart
             MIME subtype name: report
             Required parameters: boundary, report-type
             Optional parameters: none
             Encoding considerations: 7bit should always be adequate
             Security considerations: see section 4 of this memo.

   The syntax of Multipart/Report is identical to the Multipart/Mixed
   content type defined in [MIME].  When used to send a report, the
   Multipart/Report content-type must be the top-level MIME content type
   for any report message.  The report-type parameter identifies the
   type of report.  The parameter is the MIME content sub-type of the
   second body part of the Multipart/Report.

      User agents and gateways must be able to automatically determine
      that a message is a mail system report and should be processed as
      such.  Placing the Multipart/Report as the outermost content
      provides a mechanism whereby an auto-processor may detect through
      parsing the RFC 822 headers that the message is a report.

Vaudreuil                   Standards Track                     [Page 1]

RFC 1892 Multipart/Report January 1996 The Multipart/Report content-type contains either two or three sub- parts, in the following order: (1) [required] The first body part contains human readable message. The purpose of this message is to provide an easily-understood description of the condition(s) that caused the report to be generated, for a human reader who may not have an user agent capable of interpreting the second section of the Multipart/Report. The text in the first section may be in any MIME standards-track content-type, charset, or language. Where a description of the error is desired in several languages or several media, a Multipart/Alternative construct may be used. This body part may also be used to send detailed information that cannot be easily formatted into a Message/Report body part. (2) [required] A machine parsable body part containing an account of the reported message handling event. The purpose of this body part is to provide a machine-readable description of the condition(s) which caused the report to be generated, along with details not present in the first body part that may be useful to human experts. An initial body part, Message/delivery-status is defined in [DSN] (3) [optional] A body part containing the returned message or a portion thereof. This information may be useful to aid human experts in diagnosing problems. (Although it may also be useful to allow the sender to identify the message which the report was issued, it is hoped that the envelope-id and original-recipient- address returned in the Message/Report body part will replace the traditional use of the returned content for this purpose.) Return of content may be wasteful of network bandwidth and a variety of implementation strategies can be used. Generally the sender should choose the appropriate strategy and inform the recipient of the required level of returned content required. In the absence of an explicit request for level of return of content such as that provided in [DRPT], the agent which generated the delivery service report should return the full message content. When data not encoded in 7 bits is to be returned, and the return path is not guaranteed to be 8-bit capable, two options are available. The origional message MAY be reencoded into a legal 7 bit MIME message or the Text/RFC822-Headers content-type MAY be used to return only the origional message headers. Vaudreuil Standards Track [Page 2]
RFC 1892 Multipart/Report January 1996 2. The Text/RFC822-Headers MIME content-type The Text/RFC822-Headers MIME content-type provides a mechanism to label and return only the RFC 822 headers of a failed message. These headers are not the complete message and should not be returned as a Message/RFC822. The returned headers are useful for identifying the failed message and for diagnostics based on the received: lines. The Text/RFC822-Headers content-type is defined as follows: MIME type name: Text MIME subtype name: RFC822-Headers Required parameters: None Optional parameters: none Encoding considerations: 7 bit is sufficient for normal RFC822 headers, however, if the headers are broken and require encoding, they may be encoded in quoted-printable. Security considerations: see section 4 of this memo. The Text/RFC822-headers body part should contain all the RFC822 header lines from the message which caused the report. The RFC822 headers include all lines prior to the blank line in the message. They include the MIME-Version and MIME Content- headers. 3. References [DSN] Moore, K., and G. Vaudreuil, "An Extensible Message Format for Delivery Status Notifications", RFC 1894, University of Tennessee, Octel Network Services, January 1996. [RFC822] Crocker, D., "Standard for the format of ARPA Internet Text Messages", STD 11, RFC 822, UDEL, August 1982. [MIME] Borenstein, N., and N. Freed, "Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions", RFC 1521, Bellcore, Innosoft, June 1992. [DRPT] Moore, K., "SMTP Service Extension for Delivery Status Notifications", RFC 1891, University of Tennessee, January 1996. 4. Security Considerations Automated use of report types without authentication presents several security issues. Forging negative reports presents the opportunity for denial-of-service attacks when the reports are used for automated maintenance of directories or mailing lists. Forging positive reports may cause the sender to incorrectly believe a message was delivered when it was not. Vaudreuil Standards Track [Page 3]
RFC 1892 Multipart/Report January 1996 5. Author's Address Gregory M. Vaudreuil Octel Network Services 17060 Dallas Parkway Dallas, TX 75248-1905 Phone: +1-214-733-2722 EMail: Greg.Vaudreuil@Octel.com Vaudreuil Standards Track [Page 4]

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