[Community-Discuss] Unaddressed queries by AFRINIC during AGMM

Ronald F. Guilmette rfg at tristatelogic.com
Thu Jun 24 11:28:30 UTC 2021

In message <17a3d21fad1.bd552ba1206303.7060355078460728919 at africaoncloud.net>,
Paul Wollner <paul.wollner at africaoncloud.net> wrote:

>AFRINIC claims that any change in the IP usage will require

>re-justifying the usage. Would it mean that, hypothetically,

>if I have a web customer on my server and they leave to be replaced with a

>VPN customer, will I need to seek AFRINIC's approval first?

I also would like to see some discussion on this question.

To be clear that is not to say that I have any specific position on the
question. I do not. I am in fact of two minds about this.

It is clear to me that VPN's are primarily used for criminal activity
and/or evading and circumventing location-specific and/or IP-based
restrictions as implemented by many Internet services and web sites.

On that basis, it is my assertion that when used within the "free world",
VPN farms are an abomination. Of course I have a rather different
feeling about them when they are used, e.g. within repressive countries
that attempt to control what parts of the Internet their citizens can see.
So at best, VPN's are a mixed blessing when viewed from a general public
policy standpoint.

From the standpoint of Internet governance policy, the case in favor
of large scale VPN farms is even much weaker. It is demonstratably true
that the operation of large VPN farms is a poor and inefficient use of
IPv4 real estate. A web server having adequate power can host 50,000
web sites via a single IPv4 address. Likewise for a mail server, which
could service the email needs of 50,000 domain names on a single IPv4
address. I am not presently aware of any such IP sharing technology when
it comes to VPNs and indeed even if any such sharing technology were
developed, it might not be used, in practice, because doing so might
defeat the whole point of using a VPN to begin with, i.e. to obtain a
unique and unblocked IP address in order to perform a technical "end-run"
around IP-based or region-based filters.

This is not to say that utilization of IP addresses for web or mail servers
is always terrifically efficient in all cases either. I have seen vast
farms of IPv4 address space that are currently being used very inefficiently,
specifically to host massive farms of "cookie cutter" web sites, all of
which are promoting various kinds of porn and gambling to native Chinese
speakers. (It it undoubtedly the case that these promotions are targeted
quite specifically at citizens of mainland China, even though both of these
forms of diversion are illegal within that country. So here again we
have vast amounts of "precious" IPv4 address space effectively being
squandered to chase a couple of niche markets, neither of which having
much in the way of socially redeaming value, and markets with diminishing
returns, all based on widspread violations of law.)

But I have digressed, for which I apologize.

The question was wehether or not some Regional Internet Registry generally,
or AFRINIC specifically, have/has the authority to restrict the use of IP
address blocks which it has allocated to various parties. It is an
interesting question and one for which I personally have no answer. The
answer, wherever it is, quite certainly has global ramifications.

On the one hand, it is clear and unambiguous that -all- parties that have
received valuable IPv4 address allocations have an interest in seeking to
maximize the return-on-investment with respect to these assets... the same
as any owner of land would have. And thus, Internet land owners are quite
naturally going to be loath relinquish -any- measure of control over the
assets in question, as doing so must certainly appear to them to have a
negative effect on their ability to monetize these asserts, at least over
the short term.

That fact having been noted, it is not always the case that "government
regulation" over land use is a Bad Thing, or that it will result in
private owners being unable to maximize the value of their assets.

As we here in the U.S. are aware due to our "Dust Bowl" era, unregulated
land use can prove disastrous for everyone, and this is by no means
merely a quaint historical fact of no relevance to the modern era. The
U.N. notes that widspread destruction due to unregulated and poor land
use is an ongoing crisis TODAY:


But setting aside the issue of land degradation, it should be noted also
that in the U.S., at least, and I suspect in many other places, so-called
"local zoning ordinances" do in fact restrict the rights of land owners
in ways that prohibit them from doing anything they want with their assets.

I think this is widely recognized to be all for the good. If you live
in a vicinity that is zoned for "residential use only", you can lay your
head on the pillow at night and can rest easy knowing that you won't have
either a cattle slaughterhouse nor a skyscraper built right next to your
home anytime soon.

Although I have no personal knowledge of what AFRINIC either is doing or
what it may be proposing with regards to the kinds of uses that some or
all existing IP address allocations may be restricted to, I have no doubt
that, for lack of a better term, "IP zoning ordinances" may be a Good Thing,
overall, and for all concerned. After all, is anyone really opposed to
"urban planning"? Do you want to wake up one morning with your home in
the shadow of a new skyscraper which you never had anything to say about?

It is a sperate question, of course, as to who exactly is doing the planning
and the restricting. I am in general agreement with the notion that when
it comes to IP assets that have been assigned by AFRINIC, the membership
should set the guidelines for all such regulations, and then staff should
be allowed to get on with the job of interpreting and enforcing those
community-approved guidelines.


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