[arin-ppml] ARIN-prop-151 Limiting Needs Requirements for IPv4 Transfers

Chris Engel cengel at conxeo.com
Tue May 24 13:09:38 EDT 2011

> IPv4 Transfers
> Hi Mike, Owen, ARIN,
> Still not ready to declare for or against, but leaning... OK, not for it
> exactly as written, but I do think this needs to be discussed from now to
> and through Philadelphia.
> At base, the policy change under discussion is to remove needs assessment
> from the process of transfering IPV4 addresses. There is another clause
> dealing with the section 12 review that I am going to skip in this post.
> The major idea SEEMS to be that the author feels that the invisible hand
> of the free market will do a better (fairer?) job of fitting available
> addresses to their best destination in the context of a marketplace.
> A marketplace.
> So far, the traffic in IP addresses has taken place in an orderly manner,
> not unlike a harvest does. An RIR gets a crop of addresses in, in a
> quasi-seasonal manner and they enter into a regulated, distribution
> situation. Take a number, no pushing, no shoving, parcel 'em all out,
> rinse repeat. Not a modern NAFTA, WTO market, granted, but predictable.
> But the harvest has failed in IPV4 numbers and we seem to be faced with
> famine, first in APNIC and then in the rest of the RIRs. Oh sure, we can't
> eat IP numbers and they are endlessly recyclable and we have a new food
> supply ready and waiting, blah, blah, blah. But it will resemble a famine,
> nontheless. And there are a number of features about famines, with which
> mankind has wide experience. There will be a black market, there will be
> hoarding. There will be haves trying to help havenots. There will be
> bandits, both individual and collective. There will be bad behavior and
> good behavior. There will be starvation and gluttony and all the
> inefficiencies that man can devise.
> But in every famine with which I am familiar, I've never heard of the body
> that had control of the grain throwing open the doors of the granaries and
> declaring, "Everything goes to the highest bidder! First come, first
> served! Get it today before it's gone!" Someone said something earlier
> about an invisible fist. That's what this sounds like.
> But wait!, I can hear someone saying. We're not talking about the central
> granary here. We just want some well capitalized benefactors to be able to
> come in and buy up all the unused grain from folks who don't need it
> anyway, hang onto it and sell it at a modest profit later when the price
> really goes up. What's wrong with that? They're taking all the risk,
> right? RIGHT? Pay no attention to those guys with the pick handles by the
> gates. They're just keeping order.
> And Mom and Pop and their little windfall and all the rest.
> Now, I recognize that the author is not proposing throwing open the doors
> precisely. And the horrors of IPV4 starvation don't have the same punch as
> say, Biafra. But in this orderly marketplace, the needs basis is the door,
> and we should think long and hard before taking it out of the jamb and
> setting it aside. And, quelle surprise, that seems to be exactly what we
> are doing.
> Looking toward Philadelphia, I think I might be in favor of dealing (so to
> speak) with the question of needs and the market as its own solo subject,
> without the section 12 stuff. This would allow for the appropriate
> recapitulation of the development of modern economics since the ancien
> regime, in this context. :)
> My thanks to the participants in this important discussion.
> John Springer

John,  it's an interesting analogy but I'm not sure it's entirely apt in this case. In the case of grain, you have a resource that has a definite physical form that control can be exerted over.... and in the case of a grain regulator, you have someone that has the capability to exercise real control (i.e. the guys with pipe-handles) over the distribution of resource. That doesn't really seem to be so much the case here. Maybe if ARIN were an actual government agency with teeth to enforce things the case would be a bit different.

The reality is that ARIN seems to act more like a parking attendant in the grain distribution center parking lot. ARIN gives direction (absent contracts without any real ability to enforce such direction) about who should pull into what spot and when. Pretty much people choose to listen to the parking attendant because it benefits them to have a nice orderly process without the risk of accidents to go get their grain. That all works great as long as there are plenty of parking spaces and plenty of grain and most people who want a reasonable amount of grain have a reasonable expectation of getting it. Not sure how well such a system holds up once the grain and parking spaces fill up and the grain becomes more valuable then getting your car dinged.

More pointedly I'm not sure ARIN's methodology for determining who should get the grain is fairer, more equitable or more efficient then simply letting the current resource holder and those who want such resources work out the details amongst themselves (i.e. cash, usually). Speaking only for myself, I get a little uncomfortable when a private organization places itself in charge of something as important as number resource allocation (in a scarcity market) and is going to allocate on the basis of what it considers as "need".  If that is a function that is really desirable then, I personally, would be more comfortable with an actual governmental agency filling that role. At least, theoretically (in the US at least) they are accountable to whole of the voting public and are subject to some level of transparency through things like FIA requests.  

Christopher Engel 
(Speaking only for myself)

More information about the ARIN-PPML mailing list