[Community-Discuss] "Fighting Internet Shutdown" - Any Role for AFRINIC?

Andrew Alston Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com
Sat Apr 15 14:15:21 UTC 2017

Hi Alan,

Thanks – that’s actually a very useful reference – particularly if we dig into it deeper:

3.4 The Company shall have, both within and outside the Republic of Mauritius, full capacity to carry and/or undertake any business or activity, including but not limited to the following objects:
(i) to provide the service of allocating and registering Internet resources for the purposes of enabling communications via open system network protocols and to assist in the development and growth of the Internet in the African region;
(ii) to promote the representation of AFRINIC membership and the Internet community of the African region by ensuring open and transparent communication and consensus-driven decision-making processes;
(iii) to promote responsible management of Internet resources throughout the African region, as well as the responsible development and operation of Internet infrastructures;
(iv) to provide educational opportunities to the public so as to increase understanding within African communities of Internet technical and policy issues;
(v) to propose and take such steps as are necessary to promote the development of public policies in the best interest of members and to seek legislative and regulatory consideration, whether by way of meetings or representations, of issues of general benefit to the members, where and when appropriate;
(vi) to develop and promote technical and business practice standards related to Internet service provision to members;
(vii) to disseminate among its members information on all matters affecting the Company and its members and to provide for and be a central channel of communication for the members of the Company and generally for the furtherance and promotion of their interests;
(viii) to cultivate and obtain reciprocal relations with kindred institutions; and
(ix) to do all other things incidental or conducive to the attainment of all or any of the objects of the Company.

My reading of the above is as follows – and I’d love to hear other thoughts and comments on these:

Clause (i) is pretty much technical in nature – which talks to the technical function of AfriNIC
Clause (ii) I would say is a little more vague – though rather than speak to mandate it speaks to mechanism 
Clause (iii) I would say is now starting to enter into the political realm and starts getting murky – because the word responsible is open to interpretation – and in my time in this industry I have seen both providers and states argue about what responsible is in many different ways.  Even when it comes to the debate about net neutrality – I have seen providers argue that shaping one thing over another is the ‘responsible’ decision.  So I’d say that’s very very open to interpretation.
Clause (iv) is even more interesting – the technical issues are simple – and isn’t really open to much interpretation – what is technical fact is technical fact.  However – the understanding of policy is another story – because the effects of policy and the interpretation of policy becomes a very political issue.  Policies aren’t cut and try.
Clause (v) is in my view clearly in the political realm – it speaks to lobbying – and that means taking partisan positions – and it speaks to doing it in political forums.  I would argue that in the debate about the anti-shutdown policy we sit firmly in the domain of 3.4.(v) based on what it says there – a political issue where we are now taking a stance.  The only question is how strong a stance can we take – is it purely a matter of lobbying or can we take a carrot and stick approach (I would argue that we are not precluded from creating a policy that does have a stick attached to it by anything in 3.4 – again though – open to hearing interpretations)
Clause (vi) concerns me – I am not sure that any RIR should be involved in the creation of business process – though I would also say it is not something we have ever engaged in.  Business process is different from company to company, country to country – but its perhaps another thing we need to debate amongst the community
Clause (vii) is stock standard corporate best practice
Clause (viii) is just sensible ☺
Clause (ix) though is *REALLY* interesting when taken into account with 3.4.(v) because it opens the door – 3.4.(v) I would argue puts us deep in the political realm – and 3.4.(ix) in combination allows us to extend that to using the stick proposed.

As I said though – these are my interpretations of the various clauses – and I’m really hoping to see some more debate about this from the community at large.  Let’s discuss – and truly understand ourselves and our nature and our bylaws.



On 15/04/2017, 12:14, "Alan Barrett" <alan.barrett at afrinic.net> wrote:

    > On 14 Apr 2017, at 22:39, Andrew Alston <Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com> wrote:
    > But it raises a question – and its one I’ve been debating at length online with multiple people.
    > AfriNIC – completely neutral technical body
    > AfriNIC – political organisation with a technical function
    > AfriNIC – A hybrid of both of the above?
    > Because that impacts how we view things – and it impacts the role that the organisation should be playing. 
    AFRINIC’s goals are stated in section 3.4 of the Bylaws <https://afrinic.net/en/about/bylaws/2001-afrinic-bylaws-2016?start=2>
    My summary is that AFRINIC has a dual mandate, to allocate and register Internet number resources, and to promote the development of the Internet, focusing on Africa but not ignoring the rest of the world.
    Alan Barrett
    Community-Discuss mailing list
    Community-Discuss at afrinic.net

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