[ppml] PPML Digest, Vol 7, Issue 6

Bill Van Emburg arin-member at quadrix.com
Wed Jan 18 10:25:14 EST 2006

> From: Michael.Dillon at btradianz.com
> ...
> number written as nnnnn-nnnn. I assume that the
> PostalCode field in the whois, is capable of handling
> arbitrary text such as the full zip code or the words
> "Private Residence".
That would be a bad assumption.  Most zip code fields in systems of 
which I am aware do error checking to ensure that the entry matches a 
known zip code format.  Therefore, they would not accept arbitrary text. 
  I do not, however, know for certain how the various whois servers and 
clients might do things.

> The actual text of the ARIN statement was:
>    The Board, by sequential adoption of these two proposals, has 
>    interpreted street address to mean that element of a postal address 
>    that conveys the street number and name.
> Since it is clear that the Canadian postal code does convey
> the street number and name, it should also be replaced by
> "Private Residence". I assume that the full U.S. zip code
> similarly conveys the street number and name because the
> USPS states here:
> http://www.usps.com/history/history/his3_5.htm
>    The sixth and seventh numbers denote a delivery sector,
>    which may be several blocks, a group of streets, a group
>    of post office boxes, several office buildings, a single 
>    high-rise office building, a large apartment building, or 
>    a small geographic area. The last two numbers denote a 
>    delivery segment, which might be one floor of an office 
>    building, one side of a street between intersecting streets, 
>    specific departments in a firm, or a group of post office boxes. 
The definition you have included here explicitly states that you're 
talking about multiple addresses, at least in the residential case.

You are correct in stating that a full zip+4 narrows things down to a 
small number of residences (as does a full Canadian postal code).  For 
that reason, it would be reasonable to modify the policy to allow only 
part of a Canadian postal code to be specified, or to explicitly state 
that a full zip+4 is not required (although that really doesn't seem 
necessary, in the U.S. case, as the +4 has always been optional).

My point here is simply that ARIN has been quite clear in its current 
interpretation of policy, and I think that their interpretation is 
reasonable.  There was a great deal of debate over how much of the whois 
record should be able to be obfuscated when this policy was written, so 
it is appropriate to interpret the policy narrowly.

That does not, however, in any way prevent the introduction of a broader 
policy, one which does a more thorough job of hiding a person's location.

You should not be so quick to judge the people involved in creating the 
current policy.  It was NOT adopted merely by a "handful of people at an 
ARIN meeting."  It was adopted in the same fashion as all other ARIN 
policies -- after intense debate on the mailing list, and further 
discussion at a meeting, and even more discussion afterwards on the 
mailing list.  At least some of the people involved certainly understood 
the degree to which postal codes narrow down the location.  (I certainly 
did.  That's part of why I use a private mailbox for all of my mail.) 
Just because the policy doesn't read as you wish it would doesn't mean 
that those involved were ignorant.

There is good reason to have a zip code in the whois record -- 
geographical systems all base their concepts of location on postal 
codes.  This is very useful for analyzing geographical distribution of 
ARIN resources, as others have mentioned.  Others may well have more 
reasons to offer.  This does not have to be at odds with a desire for 
privacy for individuals.  (In fact, I'm a big privacy advocate.)

However, it is unreasonable to suggest that ARIN has been unclear in 
their interpretation of policy.  I think what you are trying to get at 
is that the policy does not adequately address privacy concerns of 
individuals, at least in Canada.  I would agree with that statement, and 
I would support a change in policy to address the issue for Canada.  (It 
wouldn't be a bad idea to explicitly state that only the 5 digit zip 
code is required, as well.)

Please feel free to write such a policy.  It would be worth pursuing.

-Bill Van Emburg
Quadrix Solutions, Inc.

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