[arin-ppml] ARIN's Authority - One view (was: Re: LRSA concerns)

William Herrin bill at herrin.us
Sat Aug 23 10:40:20 EDT 2008

On Sat, Aug 23, 2008 at 1:21 AM, John Curran <jcurran at istaff.org> wrote:
> On Aug 21, 2008, at 7:54 PM, William Herrin wrote:
>> ... ARIN got the authority to do this by virtue of the fact
>> that network solutions decided to stop. Later they negotiated
>> contracts with IANA/ICANN and normalized the arrangement into
>> something pretty solid.
> Bill - This actually isn't correct.


I oversimplified. It was a very complex, largely extralegal community
consensus process and I didn't want to go on for pages and pages.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the NSF agreed to step
aside and relieve Network Solutions of its contractual duty to operate
the number resource registry in favor of the community-organized and
funded RIRs, including ARIN.

> [clip list of documents]

What you won't find, either in this list of documents or in the
pre-ARIN address registration documents was any indication either that
the then-extant registrations were revocable or that ARIN gained
authority to revoke any registrations that predated it.

Quite the contrary: the way the legacy registrations were described
when made, they were intended to be unique and persist indefinitely,
even if the network was never connected to the Internet at large. The
sole described mechanism by which addresses could revert to the
registry was voluntary return.

What's more, the presentations made to gain the community consensus
that led to NCR-9218742's amendment 6 repeatedly promised that what
came to be known as the legacy registrations would remain untouched by
ARIN except to provide whois and rdns services.
http://rip.psg.com/~randy/970414.fncac.pdf is was such a presentation,
made to the FNC in support of ARIN's formation. See page 9,
specifically: "Current and old allocations and their DNS will be
maintained with no policy changes"

Inclusion of that statement was no mistake. "The Community" insisted on it.

We're left with: no explicit grant of authority over the legacy
registrations, and the historical documents that do talk about it
suggest that the intention was to -not- grant such authority. It
doesn't take a genius to figure out what that means in the scope of
the US legal system, built on a foundation of common law that was
eventually codified in the Tenth Amendment.

It's also worth noting that today's "trust me" arguments for signing
the LRSA are being made in the context of policy proposals which
would, if ratified, explicitly break this 1997 "trust me" promise.

> Frankly, I'd rather not think about this, and hope that this
> particular chain of succession remain nothing more than an
> interesting historical tidbit best ignored.

You'll get no argument from me on this point.

However, when v4 depletion is reached you'll find yourself under
pressure to reclaim the fallow address space, however little it may
be. To do so successfully you'll need to first normalize relations
with the registrants whose legacy space is still in service. The only
two ways you do that without creating a godawful mess for yourself are
to either seek an explicit grant of authority from the USG that
supersedes the old community agreements -OR- convince the vast
majority of legacy registrants to voluntarily sign contracts with ARIN
so that when you declare the rest of the space dead and expired
there's no one left to raise a stink.

Milton Mueller asked an interesting and relevant question:

On Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 12:01 AM, Milton L Mueller <mueller at syr.edu> wrote:
>>As a result, ARIN has near complete autonomy,
> So how long do you think it will be before that ends?  ;-)

ARIN's authority and autonomy derive from the *strong* consensus of
the community it serves. That autonomy will end when ARIN places
itself at the center of a dispute that results in a fall to weak
consensus and the defection of any significant minority of that

Bill Herrin

William D. Herrin ................ herrin at dirtside.com bill at herrin.us
3005 Crane Dr. ...................... Web: <http://bill.herrin.us/>
Falls Church, VA 22042-3004

More information about the ARIN-PPML mailing list