internet governance, rir policy, and the decline of civilization

John Curran jcurran at
Sun Sep 21 13:59:02 UTC 2014

On Sep 20, 2014, at 9:32 PM, Randy Bush <randy at> wrote:

> in '92 or whenever, when the nic contract went out to bid, rick said
> he'd do it for free with some simple scripts.  it's a long way from that
> to where we are today, and i doubt either extreme is where we should be.
> i suspect that if we threw out all the micro-management policies,
> restrictions on transfers, barriers to entry for legacy and newcomers,
> etc., we might be able to move significantly closer to rick's idealistic
> position.

It is true that we have accumulated several decades worth of policies
and assumptions that originate from the baseline that "IPv4 is a very
limited resource"; whether these make sense to carry over to a world 
where RIRs are not doing IPv4 issuance but merely keeping track of the
present address holder is an excellent question. There is nothing that 
inherently prevents a change in approach other than the policy developed 
by the community.  Given that anyone can participate in the policy 
development process (with results that are based on participant support 
for various proposals), does the lack of change reflect just a general 
lack of interest in making that happen or is it a reflection of the 
hysteresis built into the system? (i.e. the perceived need to learn 
the policy terminology and the policy development process, write up 
a proposal, educating others in the problem your trying to solve, 
participating in the discussion, etc.)

I have had folks tell me that it doesn't appear worth the effort to
change policy when all they really want is to get some address space -  
that a fairly hard situation to address; how does one have policy which 
truly serves the needs of entire community, when the actual participants 
are volunteers and thus a self-selected subset by definition?  In the 
ARIN region, the presumed answer to this question is the ARIN Advisory 
Council, which shepherds the development of policy proposals into draft 
policies and proposes them for adoption before the community (which does
reduce the amount of process issues that someone with a good idea needs 
to know in order to raise it for consideration...) It still ultimately 
comes down to the show of support for a given policy proposal at the 
ARIN Public Policy Consultations (PPCs) which are held during NANOG and 
the twice annual ARIN Public Policy Meetings.  Those who participate 
(generally between 50 and 100 folks depending on meeting) determine via 
their show of support whether draft policies ultimately get abandoned or 
adopted. If there is an "unserved" segment of the community out there of
any size, it simply takes attending either on-site (or remotely) to be 
included; making significant policy changes does not require membership, 
agreements, seats on the AC or Board, or anything else other than actual 
participation in the process.

> buy it would require a change of paradigm, and that usually requires a
> lot of folk retiring.

I'm going to disagree since most of concerns you cite above (e.g. transfer 
restrictions) are set in policy, and as I indicated, that can be readily be 
changed if even a small number of people got involved with a clear intent to 
change them.

> so to repeat/paraphrase what i just said in the apnic forum,
> someone too shy to post here (yes, virginia, there are such people:)
> suggested i shill for them.  i think their points are worth it.
> reasonable public resource governance practice would include at least
> the following:
> - term limits for board and committee positions (maybe 2-4 years?)
> - ten year employment caps on executive staff
> - members decide bylaws and budgets
> and as i suggested to arin, a gov/ops review consultation consisting of
> folk with some stature in these areas, and not having any members from
> board or staff.

Despite the fact that I do not believe that current policy development is 
encumbered by the practices you cite above, I do believe that any member-
based organization should periodically look at its accountability to the 
community served.  There is some commonality of belief in that principle 
among the other RIR; in fact, the RIRs (working via the NRO) recently 
completed a RIR survey and published a matrix providing an overview of 
the governance frameworks of the RIRs.  It is designed as a reference 
for the global Internet community, and provides a structured overview 
of various aspects of RIR governance, with links to the source documents 
on the respective websites of the RIRs -

I do not believe that the current RIR governance matrix gets to the level 
of detail necessary to show each RIR's compliance to your "reasonable public 
resource governance practices" listed above; I will propose that it be 
updated accordingly as a first step in this process.  While everyone may 
not agree on what constitutes best practices for RIR governance, there is 
no reason not to have clear documentation of the current state of affairs 
to aid in the discussion.


John Curran
President and CEO

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