The birth of X9.119

Standardization is crushing the heart and soul, the blood and guts, out of humanity and the eventual result will be either complete and unrelieved slavery or the destruction of civilization and return to barbarism.

Robert E. Howard, letter to H. P. Lovecraft, October 31, 1931

At the recent ASC X9 meeting, we learned that the designation X9.119 had been assigned to the new standard that will be called Protection of Sensitive Data between Device and Acquiring System. At this meeting, it actually took over an hour for the X9F6 working group to decide that this document should be a standard instead of something else, like a technical guideline (TG).

The most amazing part was the fact that after over an hour of loud and bitter debate over this, it was actually unanimously decided that the document should indeed become a standard! In other words, we spent over an hour arguing over a point over which there was total and complete agreement. That might give you some idea of how long it takes to resolve points over which there is actually some disagreement.

I should also mention that I was impressed by the people from Heartland Payment Systems during this hour-long discussion. While people from other organizations were willing to spend lots of time talking about things that weren't really related to the issue at hand, Heartland did their best to keep the discussion on track. Unfortunately, their efforts weren't quite enough to do this, but I hope that they won't be discouraged by this experience. We need more of that type of contribution at standards meetings instead of less.

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