[arin-ppml] Policy Proposal: IPv4 Recovery Fund / history lesson #1

Tom Vest tvest at pch.net
Tue Nov 25 08:16:46 EST 2008

On Nov 24, 2008, at 10:29 PM, Randy Bush wrote:

>> I'm pretty sure that my predictions are familiar to most community
>> members by now.
> through repitition, not validation.
> randy

Hi Randy,

While I'm pretty sure you meant that as a criticism, I'll take the  
charge of "repetition" as a sign that, at least, I am consistent --  
which should make it much easier to evaluate my predictions after the  
fact. I would encourage everyone in this debate to lay their chips  
down equally clearly, somewhere.

Moreover, I don't know how to validate a prediction other than to see  
if it comes true, except perhaps to identify and detail historical  
precedents. I know that I have attempted to do that systematically in  
some depth [1]; perhaps others have also done so and I just don't know  
about it. Can you suggest other, equally or more valid methods?

Anyone willing to take up the challenge is encouraged to read on...



Here's an example of a clear prediction, albeit one that history has  
tested and found wanting:

Mid-1996 (just before the US Telecom Act of 1996 went into effect):  
"He (Mueller) said New Zealand's lack of regulation meant issue would  
be settled by courts. Case demonstrated that govt. intervention is  
needed only at beginning and that competition is viable without equal  
access." [2]


Here's an example of the selective assertion of mutually contradictory  
claims to different audiences:

On Nov 24, 2008, at 12:48 PM, Milton L Mueller wrote:

> Tom, you are the only person talking about privatization, much less  
> "big
> bang" style privatization. The rest of us are talking about  
> instituting
> economic incentives for transfers of scarce ipv4 resources. [3]

Question: You write that "the 'self-regulatory regime' being  
constructed by ICANN is actually far more centralized and controlling  
in nature than the pre-ICANN Internet," with the Commerce Department  
announcing "its intention to retain 'policy authority'" over domain  
names indefinitely. A pretty bleak outcome for a process that was  
supposed to getthe government out of the picture and let markets work.  
What went wrong?

Mueller: If the Commerce Department had conceived of [the switch from  
Network Solutions to ICANN] as a true privatization, with the  
government transferring assets from itself to the private sector, it  
should have created a property rights structure that would've allowed  
private players to compete. What it did instead was simply transfer  
government's role to an organization that it called 'private'.  [4]

In case there is any doubt as to which is the more durable view, or  
its present relevance:

Mueller: "Some of the problems with ICANN are the result of bad  
implementation decisions by the US government, which might be expected  
– and excused – given the move into uncharted territory. Even if they  
had managed to avoid missteps, however, there is still reason to doubt  
whether the Clinton administration’s ‘self-regulation’ concept  
provides a coherent basis for the future of internet  
administration.The rhetoric of ‘private sector control’ obscures the  
fact that the most salient issues in the transition concern the  
definition and scope of property rights – in domain names, IP  
addresses, trademarks, and zone file data.The policy also glossed over  
the fact that control of the internet’s centralized coordination  
mechanisms could be exploited or abused to attain regulatory powers  
over internet users and suppliers.The definition and enforcement of  
individual rights is a function normally associated with government  
and with formal law. Indeed, without a clear definition of property  
rights there can be no ‘private sector’ and no cohesively organized  
‘industry.’ By abdicating its responsibility to define the scope and  
the limits of the rights involved and the assets that were being  
transferred to ICANN,the US government’s ‘self-regulation’ policy has  
engendered confusion, conflict and delay. Whether its approach will  
bring corresponding gains remains to be seen." [5]


And here are some examples of ambiguous if not self-contradictory  
predictions that could be interpreted as either/both true and/or false  
no matter what happens:

''The real irony is that increasing competition generally leads to  
more Government involvement in the industry, not less,'' Mr Mueller  
said. "Interconnection will not come about as a product of voluntary  
negotiation, because in most cases the incumbent has nothing to gain  
and a lot to lose from providing access to its competitors." [6]

"Get over it. It's just business." [7]


[1] http://www.eyeconomics.com/backstage/NetStagflationPaper.html
See also: http://www.eyeconomics.com/backstage/Isomorphism.html,

[2] "New Zealand Network-Opening Model Yielded Mixed Results, Panel  
Says," Warren's Telecom Regulation Monitor (July 15, 1996).

[3] http://lists.arin.net/pipermail/arin-ppml/2008-November/012683.html

[4] Jeff A. Taylor, "I Think ICANN." Reason Magazine (June 1, 2000).

[5] Milton Mueller, "ICANN and Internet Governance: Sorting Through  
the Debris of 'Self-Regulation.'” Info: the journal of policy,  
regulation and strategy for telecommunications information and media  
(December 1999).

[6] James Riley, "Straight Talk on Competition." South China Morning  
Post (October 4, 1994).

[7] Various.

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