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The Internet and the Year 2000 problem

As an internet user you may be concerned about the impact of the Y2000 or Millennium Problem on the Internet. This page is provided as a New Zealand source of material with respect to this problem.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has established a working group to study the implications of the year 2000 on the Internet protocols.

You can follow the progress of this group at The current output of this group is described in an internet draft dated January 1999.

The abstract of this draft states:

"The Year 2000 Working Group (WG) has conducted an investigation into the millennium problem as it regards Internet related protocols. This investigation only targeted the protocols as documented in the Request For Comments Series (RFCs).

This investigation discovered little reason for concern with regards to the functionality of the protocols.

A few minor cases of older implementations still using two digit years (ala RFC 850) were discovered, but almost all Internet protocols were given a clean bill of health.

Several cases of "period'' problems were discussed where a time field would "roll over'' as the size of field was reached. In particular, there are several protocols, which have 32 bit, signed integer representations of the number of seconds since 1 January, 1970 which will turn negative at Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 GMT 2038.

Areas whose protocols will be effected by such problems have been notified so that new revisions will remove this limitation."

Despite the optimism of this abstract you should be aware of the limits of the work to date and the "minor cases" identified. The work covers protocols developed by the IETF and specified in the RFC series. This excludes all proprietary protocols, proprietary extensions to standard protocols, and protocols developed by other groups such as the X protocol used to support X-windows. The work does not consider any of the hardware devices used on the Internet, e.g. switches and routers.

The approach taken was to divide the Internet protocols into 15 logical groups.For some of these groups quite specific evidence is given to support summary conclusions. For other groups only summary conclusions are presented with the specifics yet to follow.

One "minor case" is the http protocol.Http 1.0 allowed RFC 850 dates. These dates use two digits to represent the year and are not Y2000 compliant.(RFC 850 was obsoleted by RFC 1036 in 1987.) Http 1.1 requires implementations to generate RFC 1123 format dates which are Y2000 safe. However it also requires recognition of the older dates and provides guidelines for how proxies, servers and clients using http 1.1 should interpret the old dates with respect to the millennium. This problem has been referred to the http working group.

ISOCNZ recommends that those concerned with the Y2000 problem and the Internet read the entire current draft and monitor the output of this working group. We will use this page to summarise the most recent information available.

Y2K-related links:

NZ Internet Service Provider Y2K statements:

Web World

Networking Vendors Y2K statements:

Bay Networks
Netscape 2000/index.html

Internet software package Y2K statements:

X Window System

Other General Y2K pages:

© 1999 The Internet Society of New Zealand
Last updated 1 February 1999

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