[ppml] NANOG IPv4 Exhaustion BoFRe: NANOG IPv4 Exhaustion BoF

Leo Bicknell bicknell at ufp.org
Fri Mar 7 09:57:41 EST 2008

In a message written on Fri, Mar 07, 2008 at 04:19:59AM -0800, Randy Bush wrote:
> > Markets are not inevitable.
> a market already exists, so the inevitability is irrelevant

I keep seeing a bunch of engineers argue these two points using
rather fine points of the English language, and all sides are
avoiding the real issue.

A black market exists for /everything/.  From IP's to toilet paper
there are people selling it "outside the system".  Thus Randy's
quote of "a market already exists" is technically true.

But, most black markets are /insignificant/.  It doesn't matter if
you measure by number of transactions, or dollar value, or any other
measure in most cases the black market doesn't even come close to
a rounding error.  For most goods (e.g. toilet paper) people selling
on the black market are doing so either to support illegal activity
(e.g. TP'ing someone's house with "untraceable" paper) or because
they have some problem with the system (e.g. don't want to pay sales
tax on their TP).

I would argue at this stage the black market in Internet Resources
is insignificant in that it is both small in number of transactions
and small in dollar value.  I would also argue most of the transactions
are supporting illegal activity (spam, malware, etc).

What's really interesting is if the black market turns into something
where a significant percentage of law abiding citizens turn to the
black market.  For one of the largest black markets ever think
prohibition; many ordinary citizens who would otherwise obey the law
turned to "illegal" producers.

In this respect Randy totally misses the boat with "inevitability
is irrelevant" because he ignored the the original poster intent,
which was something more like this:

  Black markets that gain wide acceptance between otherwise rule
  following participants are not inevitable.

Is such a market inevitable?  I don't think so.  Today we have a
system where most major ISP's want to see documentation you can use
the IP space you want to route.  Whois, LOA from the holder, we've
all seen the various checks.  Yes, I realize not 100% of the networks
check, but enough do that it is common.  We all see technical value
in these checks.  Those who fail to hold their customers to the
checks generally get the wrath of the community (witness the Youtube
event, for the most recent case) because we know this is a sort of
mutually assured destruction.  While we would all like to be able
to announce any prefix we want if we all did that and trounced over
each others customers the Internet would quite literally fall apart.

In short, it's my belief that even if there was no way to transfer
resources the black market would never rise above a rounding error
(although it may get somewhat larger than it is today); and is thus
not an issue.

However, if we're going to have a real discussion this issue people
need to grow up.  The fact that 10 people bought and sold hijacked
netblocks last year is a complete non sequitur to the discussion
at hand.  The interesting discussion is if there will be a market
where AT&T, VerizonBusiness, Qwest, Level 3, Cox, Comcast, Cablevision,
and other large companies will purchase IP resources.  Would the
situation get so bad that these large corporations would risk
punishment by the law, regulators, and their peers for turning to
a black market.

I think not.

       Leo Bicknell - bicknell at ufp.org - CCIE 3440
        PGP keys at http://www.ufp.org/~bicknell/
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