Why you should care about internet number resources (and here’s how to get involved)

By Alyssa Moore, former policy advisor, Cybera

In April I had the good fortune to:

  • Attend an all-expenses paid meeting in Jamaica
  • Nerd out with internet community experts and veterans
  • Engage in the best professional development of my career
  • Form relationships with brilliant mentors

Sounds too good to be true, right? Allow me to introduce you to the ARIN Fellowship Program.

ARIN 37 Fellows – April, 2016. Photo: ARIN

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is the non-profit, community driven organization responsible for managing internet number resources in North America and parts of the Caribbean. The folks at ARIN support the operation of the internet by allocating Internet Protocol (IP) address space and Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs). They also maintain the WHOIS, WhoWas, Internet Routing Registry (IRR), and reverse Domain Name System (DNS).

Internet number resource policies in the ARIN region are developed entirely by the community. Every word of the Number Resource Policy Manual (NRPM) undergoes rigorous examination in a transparent, community driven, bottom-up policy development process. In an increasingly networked world, we all have a stake in internet governance. Number resource policy is of particular importance in light of the recent depletion of “free pool” IPv4 addresses in the ARIN region, development of an IPv4 transfer market, and the slow pace of a global transition to IPv6.

ARIN provides multiple avenues to contribute to the formation of policies and processes that underpin global internet infrastructure. Anyone with an e-mail address can chime in on global internet policy-making simply by joining and participating in a mailing list. Anyone can also attend an ARIN meeting, either in person or virtually. And anyone residing in the ARIN region with an interest in internet governance is encouraged to apply for the Fellowship Program.

Facilitation of policy discussion at ARIN 37. Photo: ARIN

While there is much lively discussion on mailing lists or during meetings, I found that some of the most spirited policy conversations took place over breakfast and at after-hours socials. For example, rules around IPv4 address transfers are currently of particular interest to the ARIN community. Some advocate passionately for the application of strict needs tests in cases where limited IPv4 resources are sold in a private transaction. Others support complete liberalization of the IPv4 transfer market, and the rest fall somewhere in between. If you’re involved in politics in any way, this type of problem may sound familiar…

Regardless of where one’s opinions fall on the policy spectrum, each and every person I encountered took the time to engage in a meaningful discussion with me and explain the issues within their historical context. I was floored by how quickly introductions were made and how welcoming the ARIN community is to newcomers. It’s for these reasons that I strongly encourage anyone with a stake in number resources or the larger internet governance landscape to get out to an ARIN meeting in person.

Fellowship applications are currently being accepted for the October 20-21, 2016 meeting in Dallas, Texas.

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