[arin-ppml] Q1 - ARIN address transfer policy: why thetriggerdate?

Tom Vest tvest at pch.net
Thu Jun 26 11:55:09 EDT 2008

On Jun 26, 2008, at 4:29 AM, Milton L Mueller wrote:

>> -----Original Message-----
>> speculation can be a very profitable activity for those who engage  
>> in it,
>> but the resulting volatility is bad for consumers.  i do not
>> particularly > want my actions and values to be monetized in this  
>> way, not for ipv4
>> space, not for oil, not for electric power in california in 2001.   
>> if we
>> here are amateurs as randy bush has often said, then the  
>> speculators will
>> win no matter what
> I think the level of fear of speculation evinced on this list has lost
> connection with reality.
> All of the speculative markets cited (currency, oil, etc.) involve the
> flexibility to acquire and resell the commodity in days, hours or
> minutes. Every transfer market proposal imposes limits of 2 years on
> resale. Acquirors also have limits on getting addresses from ARIN. The
> idea that a volatile, unstable market will develop is at odds with the
> time limits that are being placed on both acquisition and re-sale of
> acquired addresses.

Hi Milton,

I find it telling that you have adopted the common but self- 
contradictory position that:

1. A "market" is inevitable because SOME community members will (and/ 
or already have) refuse to adhere to the applicable policies/ 
restrictions -- which were developed by/within that community -- when  
non-adherence serves their individual interests.

2. However, once a market is created, NO community members will refuse  
to adhere to the new policies/restrictions -- which presumably have no  
more force or efficacy that those that came before -- even when non- 
adherence serves their individual interests.

The truth, of course, is that some people will refuse to comply with  
some rules on some occasions no matter what they are, regardless of  
whether you're talking about a "self-governing" system where most of  
the policy effectiveness (i.e., compliance) measurement and  
encouragement efforts are passive or indirect (if not always entirely  
"voluntary"), or an "other-governing" system in which members are  
monitored and forced to comply by a third party.... regardless of  
whether your talking about a command-and-control system or a regulated  
market. Where there are rules, there are always rule-breakers; that is  
the only rule ;-)

The big difference/problem, then, is not so much related to the fact  
of occasional noncompliance, but rather with the sustainability of the  
system itself. In previous messages you've explicitly declined to  
assert that you favor the complete (legal) privatization of IPv4, and  
you also passed on opportunities to declare that you favor ceding the  
allocation and registry functions to a government entity. I'm going to  
leap from those silences to the assumption that they imply that, in a  
future of market-driven IPv4 transfers, the community will continue to  
have the same "policy effectiveness (i.e., compliance) measurement and  
encouragement" obligations that it possesses today...

And here's where the idea fails.

A self-governing system can't afford the luxury of (much) hypocrisy.  
We generally don't/can't rely on the existence of a third party with  
hypothetical absolute power, either to wield threats to promote  
collective compliance (i.e., "coordination"), or to monitor and detect  
and punish the noncompliant -- or to justify the kind of magical  
thinking that suggests that real-world problems that require  
coordination have somehow disappeared (ala "there's a law against  
burglary, so I don't need to have a lock on my door").

For the most part, we don't have police, or even locks at the moment;  
what we have is a diverse, largely unintentional, organically- 
developed cumulation of passive and indirect compliance-encouraging  
mechanisms, which seem to do the job "well enough" They get better  
over time, generally, but since not all of the improvements are  
retroactive, we occasionally have a contingent one-time problem that  
requires special handling.

It may be that we'll develop some tools like police, locks, etc. in  
the future (some are already in the works, but are not exactly  
embraced by all with great enthusiasm). But even then it would be  
prudent not to expect too much from them / impose too much burden on  
them -- unless of course those tools are as "powerful" as (or maybe  
just an extension of) those in the "other-governance" world... or  
perhaps our own magical thinking skills improve.

So, now we are confronting an odd assortment of special one-time  
problems (legacy allocations, classful allocations, imperfect  
preservation of historical registry data, imperfect mechanisms for  
maintaining policy-to-resource-to-institution associations over time,  
etc.), some of which feel urgent because of the looming exhaustion of  
the unallocated IPv4 address pool. At the same time, we also have the  
looming challenge of IPv6 migration, which if managed properly could  
fix or moot most/all of these contingent problems, while at the same  
time alleviating the essential problem of number resource scarcity.  
That's not inevitable however; it's just business, after all, and not  
all businesses thrive, or even survive.

At this point we have no choice but to handle both the backward- 
looking IPv4 and the forward-looking IPv6 challenges simultaneously,  
which means that conflicts and choices and tradeoffs are inevitable.  
Given that, which one do you think should take precedence? What  
calculus do you recommend for determining whether a given policy or  
proposal or set of proposals balances or otherwise reconciles these  
potentially conflicting goals well or poorly? Your support for  
resource transfer proposals and IPv4 markets is plain enough, but  
could you expand a little and help us understand your reasoning in  
this broader context?



P.S. This list includes many cynics and masters of the ironic style of  
writing; I may even have dabbled myself from time to time ;-)
I fully expect to get plenty of that in return, all of which will be  
worth IF it's accompanied by an honest response to the very real  
question at the end.

> I believe that pre-qualification is an unnecessary administrative  
> burden
> and an obstacle to the functioning of a transfer market. The future  
> will
> be uncertain, as all of the comments of the experts on this list
> demonstrate.   It's perfectly acceptable and justifiable for operators
> to acquire addresses they _may_ need. Projections of need are just
> estimates. Estimates can be wrong, and if someone wants to spend the
> money to err on what they consider the safe side I don't see the
> problem.
> So many of the comments against transfer markets are really just
> hand-wringing about the implications of address scarcity. I don't  
> think
> I should need to remind people that the presence or absence of a
> transfer policy does not change the fundamental fact of increasing
> scarcity in the ipv4 space. It may even mitigate it somewhat by
> providing incentives to release unused space. It does seem to be  
> dawning
> on people that as long as IPv4 addresses will continue to be needed,  
> and
> there are people who have them but don't use them and there are people
> who want them but don't have them, a market will develop. It will be
> either a transparent, open, rule-governed market or it will be a
> black/gray market.

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