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The X.500 Directory Service: A Discussion of the Concerns Raised by the Existence of a Global Directory

Julia M. Hill (Network Services Manager, Heriot‐Watt University)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 1 January 1992



The X.500 Directory Service is one of the most important tools ever produced for network users. It is the enabling mechanism for a revolution in communications among people worldwide. Initiating the service, however, can be fraught with problems—not the technical challenges of creating a globally distributed service with locally managed controls, but concerns raised by the very existence of a worldwide database of information relating directly to individuals. Opportunities opened up by the use of the Directory are inevitably accompanied by the possibility of misuse. Individual subjects of the information have divided views. They earnestly wish for easier contact with colleagues and others worldwide, while entertaining in varying degrees a fear of invasion of privacy or a violation of personal rights. Managements taking responsibility for their staff and students are reacting with caution to requests for information for inclusion in the Directory. These concerns must be taken seriously, or the service will fail—either by not reaching the critical mass that will make it useful, or by quickly becoming out of date and therefore irrelevant. Prospective Directory Service managers must lake considerable care to present the service in a reassuring way to their subjects and administrators, to convince them that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks, that controls exsist, and that responsible Directory use will benefit the world network community.


Hill, J.M. (1992), "The X.500 Directory Service: A Discussion of the Concerns Raised by the Existence of a Global Directory", Internet Research, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 24-29.




Copyright © 1992, MCB UP Limited

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