Email Portability Approved by Knesset Committee

gordon b slater gordslater at
Tue Feb 23 06:06:04 UTC 2010

On Mon, 2010-02-22 at 21:20 -0800, Dave CROCKER wrote:
> In general, a core problem with the Knesset law is that it presumes
> something 
> that is viable for the phone infrastructure is equally - or at least
> tolerably - 
> viable in the email infrastructure.  Unfortunately, the details of the
> two are 
> massively different in terms of architecture, service model, cost
> structures and 
> operational skills.

Good point Dave; for the mobile phone industry, number portability is an
endpoint thing - no harder to change than a field in a
billing/accounting database (the SIM#, keeping it very simple here), for
email its a WHOLE lot more. 

eg: would you want to start accepting huge email flows from other ASs
outside your own? Even from your country's most incompetent and
fat-fingered ASs? All at once, not just your normal peers?  I can smell
spam at huge volumes if it isn't done carefully. Any solution must be
highly scale _very_ well. Potentially, globally. >eek<

Restricting the argument to a few hundred lightly-used webmail-only
accounts, there's very little problem. What you need is reciprocal
agreements to keep web accounts active after a user migrates, or even
good-old-fashioned forwarding. Maybe they politicians just noticed
forwarding in their MS Outlook one day and said "Hey, this solves the a
problem easily".  If only.....

But we're talking about )_millions_ of people here. I don't know the ISP
churn rate there for domestic users, but my head hertz already thinking
of the sheer volume and frequency [< Hz pun] of changes. Or, will people
end up keeping 30 email accounts live, adding a new one at each change,
loopholing the system every time? Even the paperwork for this could be
hard to implement if they're not careful.

The more I think about this, the more spam I smell cooking.
Egg, beans chips and Spam. Spam Spam egg beans and spam, etc

Now, it's > 05:30hrs here - as usual, I'm getting tired and my brain is
running (somewhat) amok with the thought of crazy laws to come in the
years ahead, but imagine an extreme scenario where we have to invent a
global DNS-like system just to find a given international email
account's current endpoint for delivery AND acceptance, all compliant
with existing mail delivery. Or Planet-wide LDAP+RADIUS, in realtime,
just for 95>99% spam flows?
What are they going to "invent" next? I know I'm seeing a nightmare
scenario, but politicians have very little idea of the the technology,
at all. 

Scarily, legislation would hold ISPs to it, or pay the price in

So it all does need hard engineering consideration, I think, rather than
just a "it'll never work" attitude that I'm sorely tempted to take for

I'm worrying deeper into this than necessary, I think; I'm thinking not
so much about this _current_ legislation, (it has no geographical effect
to me) but of copycat implementations worldwide getting more and more
absurd as politicians add local spin and conditions to it.

Realistically,  I'm not sure that when I wake up after 8 hours sleep
I'll feel better about it at all.


PS - just though of a relevant .sig for this topic, below

"Its easy to spout, much harder to route"

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