[Community-Discuss] Notice to all the legacy netblocks holders in AfriNIC

Ronald F. Guilmette rfg at tristatelogic.com
Fri Nov 6 00:55:37 UTC 2020

In message <CAEqgTWZcQ2O_nV_qMXXPOormSEuv9uJYZW5f3j7dgfKjoC3fSw at mail.gmail
.com> Noah <noah at neo.co.tz> wrote:

>Here is the deal and I beg to be corrected by folks to that end.


>>{... stuff about AFRINIC legal ownership snipped...}

I am not qualified to comment on any of this, as I have not read the
relevant documents, nor am I an attorney. I can only repeat what
I already said about the ownership, which was the impression I was
given by other knowledgable sources. (It may have been just plain

>> (I tried once to calculate the total current market value of all of the

>> IPv4 address space that AFRINIC had been gifted with at its inception.

>> The final esitimate I arrived at was something in excess of a quarter

>> of a billion dollars, USD. But I think that I may have left out a extra

>> zero someplace, because a single AFRINIC member currently owns over $150

>> million USD worth of non-legacy AFRINIC IPv4 address space.)


>The very reason we must be conservative about how we manage those small

>ammounts of limited numbers IANA allocated to the region so as to advance

>internet infrastructure here.

There are many reasons to be "conservative" about the world's dwindling
supply of IPv4 addresses. Like petrochemicals extracted from the earth,
the stuff may flow freely and abundantly now, even to the point where
we all feel free to squander what remains, but someday our profligate
human nature will, I'm sure, come back to haunt us, and we will wake up
with a hell of a hangover.

Ardent proponents of IPv6 will no doubt disagree with this view, but I do
believe that their views are still influenced more by hope than by current
day-to-day reality on the ground. The proof of IPv4's ongoing importance
is visible everwhere, for those that would but look for it. Speaking from
my own direct experience, of which I have a great deal, 99 spammers out
of 100 still to this day rely exclusively on IPv4 for the simple and
obvious reason that this maximizes their connectivity to the places they
wish to spam. Also, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Uerlings, Mr. Byaruhanga and an
assortment of other Internet miscreants and ne'er-do-wells, who shall
for the time being remain nameless, have not gone to the extraordinary
lengths they have all gone to in order to gather unto themselves, by hook
or by crook, large hunks of IPv4 space just for their health. For many
purposes, IPv4 is still the only game in town.

And by the way, yes, I do believe that I slipped a digit when I was trying
to calculate the total value of all of the IPv4 address space that was
gifted to AFRINIC by the other RIRs at the time of its inception, and
that a more accurate assesment of the total current open market value of
these assets likely exceeds $2.5 billion USD. And rather humorously, the
various RIRs, including but not limited to AFRINIC have somehow persuaded,
and continue to persuade their respective financial auditors to simply
close their eyes and look the other way whenever the subject of these most
valuable assets comes up. You can see this for yourself in past AFRINIC
auditor-generated financial statments, e.g. the one I looked at from 2015.
Nowhere are these most valuable assets of AFRINIC or the other RIRs ever
even considered to be assets... a most astonishing example of what would
appear on the face of it to be gross professional malpractice on the part
of the auditors, the size of which dwarfs even the national budgets of
several entire non-trivial countries.

Arguably, it is this sort of "fantasy accounting" that is at the heart of
many issues, both the AFRINIC thefts, which went on for years without any
of the accountants even noticing, and also the self-evident problem of
the well-connected in each region being granted valuable IPv4 allocations.=
sometimes huge ones... all via an entirely opaque process, while other
deserving candidates for that same space must go begging in the streets
for even small IPv4 allocations.

This sort of quiet and behind the scenes favoritism would have been both
fine and unremarkable in the old Soviet Union, but if we consider
ourselves to be capitalists, then this system cannot be viewed as anything
other than a quasi-governmental invitation to graft and influence peddling=
(And despite the selective blindness of the audittors, there is a LOT of
money at stake.)

But I digress.

>> Perhaps. The whole matter is shrouded in what I feel is unfortunate

>> and actually ridiculous secrecy. It seems that neither the AFRINIC

>> board, nor Eddy, nor the Governance Counsel... whose purpose apart

>> from the Board is still an utter mystery to me... nor even Mr. Cohen

>> himself feel in the least bit obliged to let anyone else in on the

>> Big Secret.


>I wont comment much here since the issue is before court and I have limit=


>knowledge of the proceedings but I trust that the CEO and his team are

>working this.

Very nearly everyone has "limited knowledge of the proceedings'. That
was my point. One would think that the goals and purposes of one side
or the other in this epic conflict would be served by going public with
the relevant legal filings, but apparently they themselves do not feel
that to be the case. To say that this arouses some deep suspicions for
me personally would be an understatement. At the end of the day, will
AFRINIC elect to cut a secret backroom deal with Cohen, e.g. to let him
keep some portion of what he has stolen? Or will they do as ARIN did
back in 2008, make the thief give up what he has stolen, but then find
a different way to reward him, like say, giving him an amount of
legitimately allocated IPv4 space equivalent to 1/4th of the total of
what he stole? That is, as I understand it, what happened in this case
back in 2008, because ARIN was too afraid to litigate the matter against
the thief:


>> (I am being neither rude nor insulting to repeat these widely known

>> facts here. The status of both Mauritius and Seychelles as safe

>> havens for all manner of crooked international dealings is something

>> that anyone with a web browser can easily verify for himself or herself=



>In your humble opinion ofcourse :-) since I havent done my homework to that


I invite you to do so. The ongiong status of both Mauritius and Seychelles
as safe havens for all manner of financial chicanery and skullduggery is
in no sense a secret. If google doesn't get you there let me know, and
I will be more than happy to provide numerous links to authoritativeo
material, all of it entirely public.

>> Mr. Cohen seems to be of the opinion that any -abandoned- legacy

>> blocks thus have a legal status similar to abandoned sea vessels under

>> international maritime law,...


>> I personally disagree with this view, and believe that it has no basis

>> in law, anywhere.


>The only way to fix this historical mistake especially for the AFRINIC

>region is for us to ensure that legacy space looses the legacy status after

>all the holders enjoy RIR services to the cost of resource members.

This notion has been discussed and even litigated in other regions, most
notabley in the ARIN region. It is *not* legally tenable, so you should
forget about it. Legacy blocks are legacy blocks, and evermore shall
remain so.

What is less clear is the legal authority of Regional Internet Registries
to simply stop providing support services, specifically WHOIS entries and
reverse DNS delegation, in exchange for exactly zero dollars and zero
cents, which is the current going rate in all regions for keeping either /
both abandoned legacy blocks and live legacy blocks in the WHOIS and in
the reverse DNS zone files, even if those two forms of ongoing upkeep
only amount to the Internet equivalent of life support.

In this sense, the RIRs are effectively being asked and/or expected to
operate as charities, and although this may have all been part of the
plan at the time the various RIRs were formed, times change, and I
personally am not aware of any legal impediment that would prevent any
RIR from requiring some maintenance fees... perhaps minimal, perhaps
astronomical... from the legacy holders in exchange for ongoing WHOIS
and reverse DNS delegation.

It all comes back again to money, and the deliberate and selective
blindness upon which this whole (RIR) system has been built over the
past 23 years. The cracks in this delusional fantasy are staring to
show, and like pretty much everything else in this capitalist world,
sooner or later, everything will, in the end, end up, as we say here
"on a paying basis", i.e. no more freebies. This is the inevitable
and unavoidable end-game.

The now self-evident problems generated by the "attractive nuisances" that
are abandoned legacy blocks would have all worked theselves out long ago
if the purported legal block owners had simply been asked to pay an
annual fee of a mere ten cents (USD) for annual upkeep (of the WHOIS).
Some of these companies have been dead for 25+ years! Thus, in those
cases, where there is no one who even lays a claim (and thus no one who
is even willing to pay the ten cent annual fee), after say, 3 years
or so, then the block should be reclaimed. This is not rocket science,
and everyone who knows anything about "keepalive" packets should have
no trouble understanding the simple concept here. The ten cent annual
fee is, in this context, simply a proxy for a sort of liveness check.
No new contracts need be involved... just annual payment of ten cents.

>> I firmly believe that -all- RIRs are, as we speak, hiding a whole lot

>> of insider profiteering and other mischief, both past and present,

>> behind a convenient wall of "corporate confidentiality" rules that

>> insure that only the insiders know, or will ever know, why certain

>> parties are rewwarded with valuable IP space while others are not

>> so fortunate.


>Some believe the RIR system should just be some book keeper while they

>profit from leasing resources that are meant to be put to use based on

>need-basis to build the net which goes of to affects lives positively.

See above regarding accounting.

All of history shows that the best way to insure that something will be
well used is to put a price on it. (And this is why, even thouugh I tend
strongly towards the liberal end of the spectrum, I am against the
proposal by our Senator Bernie Sanders to make college tuition free.
Doing do would make a college degree essentially worthless, which it
already alomost is due to the fact that even intelligent doorstops are
currently able to get government grants and loans to attend college here
in the U.S.)

The only way to -actually- insure that IPv4 addresses will go to those
who will make the most serious and thoughtful use of them is to auction
them all off to the higest bidder. Every other appoach is just a cover
story for favoritism, nepotism, and insider trading. (And this statement
is by no means a selective criticism, on my part, of just AFRINIC. I
have long held the same opinion also with respect to all five of the
Regional Internet Registries.)

If it is desired, for political and/or social reasons, that AFRINIC IPv4
addresses should actually be awarded to African entities and individuals.
an idea that I myself support even more than most Africans, it seems...
then fine... add that geographic restriction as a requirement on all
bidders. Problem solved!

(Funny fact: Conducting a geographically restricted auction of AFRINIC
IPv4 addresses would result in substantially *more* of these valuable
resources going to serve the needs of the continent than is currently the
case, because at present, nobody is even patying attention to, let alone
enforcing, *any* geographic restrictions relative to the holders or new
recipients of "AFRINIC" addresses... a sad commentary on the single most
glaring failure of AFRINIC to date, i.e. its inability and/or unwillingness
to do anything specific to insure that it is actually serving *African*
needs, specifically, rather than serving the needs of fast-buck interlopers,
carpetbaggers, and profiteers from other regions.)


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