a part of hell breaks loose in the ARIN community

April 6th, 2009 by kc

[this thread on transfers is too painful to watch. here's my take.]

Even if turning IP addresses into private property is the best policy decision of those available (which is far from demonstrated, since so little rigorous research of this question has actually occurred), executing such a policy by Board fiat while ARIN itself has no leadership is guaranteed to generate severe dissonance with ARIN’s organizational mission which includes forging public legitimacy entirely from its transparent, open processes.

I’ll be the first to admit that the recent dramas around transfers in ripe and apnic regions inspire a sense of urgency, although my concern is that established economic theory suggests these decisions will accelerate not only the end of IPv4 as we know (and designed) it, but also the end of any hope for pervasive IPv6 connectivity. Regardless, noone has acknowledged that’s why we’re down to DEFCON-2, or explained how it justifes Board maneuvers to declare arbitrary emergencies resulting in billion-dollar capital shifts with no regulatory oversight based on opaque reasoning and (still) no conflict-of-interest disclosures from Board members. With due respect to ARIN’s legal counsel, this is not the behavior of an organization trying to Avoid Lawsuits. If there is some other pressure that Board members are perceiving that is not public, making it public immediately may risk our Grand Experiment going down in a puff of transparency, but is it worse than it being destroyed by non-disprovable accusations of corruption and conflicts of interest?

It’s already a murky picture, and the Board should invest in making the policy debate less murky, not more so. There is a field of quantitatively grounded Internet policy research to establish here. The RIR’s are in the best position to establish it. It’s a higher priority than setting fire to IPv4, and has been for years. But I repeat myself.

If as Bill Woodcock suggests the ARIN Board members are now interested participating in the policy process, they should start by posting their views on IPv4 address privatization right below their COI disclosure paragraphs and bios. The Board has just made their independence part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

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