[arin-ppml] Legacy Space authority

michael.dillon at bt.com michael.dillon at bt.com
Fri May 2 10:47:51 EDT 2008

> This is probably a dumb question, but who does have authority 
> over legacy assignments?

It's not so dumb.
The situation is rather complex so it isn't easy to give
a definitive answer nor is it easy to sort out who really
has authority.

It's like asking who has authority over you. At first you
will probably tell me that you are an adult and nobody
has authority over you. But what if you are walking down the
street and a police officer orders you to turn around and
leave the area? You no longer have authority to continue
walking down the street. What if you are enjoying a meal
in the restaurant when a firefighter bursts in and orders
everyone to leave the building due to a gas leak down the
street. You no longer have the authority to finish your
meal. And what if you are on an airplane and the flight
attendant orders you to sit down. Do you have the authority
to continue standing?

So far, if you think about it, you could probably identify
the chain of authority that backs up these other people
who are claiming authority over you, and you would probably
accept that the circumstances above do describe a situation
in which you have less than full authority over yourself.
All of these situations have many years (sometimes centuries)
of precedence which explain and support the claim.

Then we come to IP addresses. There is clearly less time
for any precedents to have been formed so fewer people 
are able to answer your question about legacy assignments.
For instance, there is a concept called delegation. You
may own some shares in a company and have the authority to
cast one vote per share. But you can delegate this authority
to another person and now they can cast the vote. So if some
organization had authority over legacy allocations at the
time they were made, did they delegate this authority to 
ARIN? Or, at the time the allocations were made, was the
authority to make them delegated by a 3rd party (Department
of Commerce), who then delegated that authority to ARIN?

By now it should be clear that we are getting into legal territory
where the nuances need to be carefully examined by people who
have special knowledge of such things as "authority". This is
a huge grey area, where we regularly see things decided one
way, and then years later, redecided in a different way.
Law is not simple, and it is usually never cut and dried.
Is it illegal to kill someone? No, of course not. Any soldier
who is on a battlefield and following the rules of engagement
can kill again and again without breaking laws. 

--Michael Dillon

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