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Exploring the Influence of Regional Internet Registries (RIRs)

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

The world needs a fair and robust system to manage IP addresses and autonomous system numbers (ASNs). Behind the scenes, Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) play a significant role in managing these resources.


The Role of Regional Internet Registries (RIRs)


RIRs are not-for-profit organizations responsible for the fair distribution of Internet number resources in their respective regions. These resources include IP addresses (both IPv4 and IPv6) and Autonomous System (AS) Numbers.


RIRs work collaboratively to manage Internet number resources around the world. They do so through a coordinating body called the Number Resource Organization (NRO).


Although unknown to many, RIRs hold a huge role in shaping the Internet because of their power to:

- Distribute Internet resources based on their discretion, with minimal transparency and accountability.

- Create new Internet policies or amend existing ones.

- Implement censorships that can potentially ban organizations or even governments from Internet access.

- Oversee the transition from IPv4 to IPv6.


Aside from these roles, RIRs also offer services to their immediate region:

- Allocate and register IP addresses and ASNs

- WHOIS

- Reverse DNS

- Statistical information relating to Internet resources


IPv4 Exhaustion and the Need to Switch to IPv6


IPv4 has served the Internet for decades. When it was designed, the IP version had the potential for over four billion unique IP addresses. It was a lot for its time but not many people foresaw how the Internet would grow.


However, with the rapid expansion of the Internet and the introduction of new technologies like phones and smart appliances, the pool of available IPv4 addresses is fast running out.

The responsibility to manage existing IP addresses and push for the shift to IPv6 is even greater. All this challenge fall into the hands of Regional Internet Registries.


The Role of RIRs in IPv4 Exhaustion and IPv6 Deployment


As the organizations responsible for global allocation, the RIRs closely monitor Internet address consumption and deployment trends.


RIRs provide data, analysis, and leadership to assist governments, businesses, and civil society in implementing IPv6 deployment.


RIRs conduct outreach programs, emphasizing capacity-building in developing economies and promoting IPv6 adoption worldwide.


The efficient management of Internet number resources by Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) is paramount to the Internet's stability and continued growth.

That's why it's even more important that the Internet community should be invested in actions taken by RIRs.


RIRs and the Internet Community


Regional Internet Registries may seem like benign record-keepers and statisticians for the Internet. But they do have the power to influence political outcomes and decide who can be heard or seen over the Internet.


As such, the Internet community needs to be more involved in how RIRs make their decisions or implement their policies.

In broad terms, these are the things that members of the Internet community, people like you, can do to keep RIRs in check.


1. Participate in the election of RIR representatives. RIRs are only as good as the people who run them. Leaders shape the transparency and structure of Internet registries. We need competent leaders to run a fair and forward-thinking registry.

2. Express your opinion on policies that can affect your future. Whether you run a business or a head of an organization (such as a school or a non-profit), Internet policies can directly impact your future.

You can directly contact your RIR for concerns or get involved with non-profits like the Number Resource Society to stay updated with policy changes and have a say in things that matter to you.


Closing thoughts


Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) play a vital role in managing Internet resources worldwide. They distribute IP addresses and ASNs while shaping Internet policies.

With IPv4 exhaustion and the shift to IPv6, RIRs are crucial in promoting deployment. The Internet community's active involvement in RIR affairs is essential to ensure

transparency and influence decisions that impact the future of the Internet.

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