[Community-Discuss] Associated Press article

Ronald F. Guilmette rfg at tristatelogic.com
Fri Oct 1 21:21:47 UTC 2021


As you can see, the Associated Press has just published something relating
to the ongoing saga of AFRINIC, its trials and tribulations.

I have a few brief comments on this.

Firstly, I find it really rather interesting that Adiel Akplogan met
(privately?) with Lu Hung, apparently at the ICANN meeting in Beijing,
7-11 April, 2013, just shortly before Lu Heng received his first big
allocation of IP space.

This, combined with the fact that the then current AFRINIC CEO, Adiel
Akplogan, was at the time operating his own private company in Canada,
whose actual business endeavors have never been very well explained,
is, at the very least, suggestive that more questions should be asked
about Lu Heng's original justification(s) for the large amount of IPv4
space he got.

I have asked here to see those original Cloud Innovation justification
documents and that request has been met only with stony silence in reply.

One thing is clear however, from both AP's reporting and from my own
research -- Lu Heng has repeatedly claimed that he was awarded his
various large IPv4 block initially based on his purported need to
support vast numbers of VPN end users in China.  From the AP article:

    Emails obtained by the AP show that in his initial request for IP
    addresses in 2013, Lu made clear to AFRINIC that his customers would
    be in China. In those emails, Lu said he needed the addresses for
    virtual private networks -- known as VPNs -- to circumvent the Chinese
    government's firewall that blocks popular websites like Facebook and
    YouTube there.

    He said he discussed this with Adiel Akplogan, AFRINIC's first CEO,
    in Beijing in a 2013 meeting cited in the emails. 

These facts are absolutely astonishing and I urge everyone to take special
note of them.  The five Regional Internet Registries are generally assumed
to be mostly or entirely apolitical bodies, but here we have a documented
case in which one of the five, AFRINIC, is alleged to have deliberately
and with clear intent facilitated the large scale circumvention of one
country's local Internet regulations.  And not just any country, but
China, the newest superpower in what is now our tri-polar world.

If I were some high official of the Chinese Communist Party, I would at
this moment be dashing off an angry and pointed diplomatic communiqué 
demanding an explanation, and an apology, from AFRINIC leadership.  It
is one thing to be "just a bookkeeper", as Lu Hung insists the RIRs
should be, and quite another to be an active and knowing participant in
a deliberate scheme to undermine and circumvent some country's national
Internet regulation efforts.  The fact that this was done, allegedly, for
the good cause of anti-censorship does not change the fact that AFRINIC
apparently involved itself in a bit of surreptitious and clandestine
international intrigue whose clear and stated goal was to engineer a
large scale end-run around China's Great Firewall.

As an American, I am rabidly supportive of the free flow of information,
including into and out of China.  But I am not persuaded that AFRINIC, as
an international Internet administrative body, should ever have involved
itself in such a politically fraught back-room scheme.  The fact that it
appears to have done so is not likely to enhance its image on the world
stage, nor that of any of the other RIRs, whose international reputations
may also be damaged by these revelations.

That having been said, I do suspect that Chinese Communist Party was not
and is not totally unaware of what Lu Heng has been up to from 2013 onwards.
Why haven't they arrested him for his gross attempts to circumvent the
Party's singular control of the Chinese Internet?  I could speculate, but
I prefer to just leave the question open, and let everyone with an interest
in these matters reach their own conclusions, as I have.


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