responding to DMARC breakage

Matthew Petach mpetach at
Sun Apr 13 08:39:00 UTC 2014

On Sat, Apr 12, 2014 at 10:12 AM, Miles Fidelman <mfidelman at
> wrote:

> Valdis.Kletnieks at wrote:
>> On Sat, 12 Apr 2014 10:12:09 -0400, Miles Fidelman said:
>>  It occurs to me that Yahoo's deployment of DMARC p=reject, and the
>>> choice of several big mail operators to honor that, has created a
>>> situation not unlike a really routing table or nameserver, snafu ---
>> It's more like a peering war.  Time for somebody to either bake a cake,
>> or find alternate transit providers.
> Aaargghhh - what a horrible, but accurate analogy.  Worse probably - more
> like a peering war with a large broadband carrier, at the edge, where it's
> harder to find alternate transport.

So, if we stretch the analogy to near-breaking-point,
would that make Yahoo the Comcast of the email
world... or the Level3?  And depending on that answer,
would the community think that a similar response of
petitioning the government for more oversight and control
would be warranted?  Or would it be just as much out of
line in this case as it is in the Level3-Comcast fight?

I'm genuinely curious, because for most of my 20+ years
in the networking industry, I've felt like we've done a good
job at internally regulating ourselves as an industry, without
needing to bring in outside regulation; but now, it sometimes
starts to feel like the near metastable equilibrium of the system
is wobbling ever-farther from our ability to adequately control
and stabilize it.  Have we potentially hit the point where the
'community' (for whatever definition is appropriate) no longer
has enough input or leverage to bring players back into line
when they stray outside of what is considered appropriate

In spite of the peering cake having been delicious and
moist (I had two pieces, it was so yummy!), that rift
has never closed; Comcast is not changing their model,
in spite of community outcry, and Level3 has taken the
step of summoning the spectre of government intervention.
Cogent seems determined to follow a similar line of
reasoning with respect to interconnections ("if we think
we can get money from you, we'll use our customer
base as leverage; if not, we'll cry foul, and appeal
to the {government, masses, media}").

Have we reached the point as a community where
"rough consensus and running code" is no longer
the rule by which we operate, and fear of opprobrium
no longer holds any weight with operators?
As an engineer, I used to be proud that I helped
build and operate a system that existed and thrived
under its own rules, outside the sphere of any one
particular government or legal system.  I looked to
it as a model of how a bottoms-up planetary ecosystem
might operate, with everyone cooperating towards a
universal goal.  Now, I'm not so sure anymore; I'm
becoming a little bit worried it's more just a simple
reflection of all the conflicting impulses in each of

I don't think there's a clear right or wrong to these
questions; it just seems like the simplicity and
elegant optimism of the early years may have
slipped away while I focused intently on what
was right in front of me.

[drat...i started writing that over breakfast, and
then the day got busy...and here i am, finishing
it up fifteen hours later, and i'm not even sure
if i'm still going in the same direction with it; but
i'll still toss it out, and see in which direction it


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