Packet Clearing House is a public-benefit, educational not-for-profit. It exists to serve the public, but specifically to serve business. Not specific corporations, but business write large, in the sense that we work to advance the ability of businesses to provide Internet services reliably, resiliently, securely, profitably, and at low cost, to as many people, in as many places, as possible. And further, the ability of individuals to become new market entrants, innovating, entrepreneurially building new communications-related businesses, and creating jobs and economic growth. Our constituency is the operators of Internet networks and Internet critical infrastructure. In many cases their interests align with those of individuals and governments, but often for different reasons.
Packet Clearing House supports the End-to-End Principle of the Internet architecture and protocols, as established by the Internet Engineering Task Force and articulated in RFCs 1958 and 3724, and we view this as our predominant guiding principle in the area of network neutrality. At the same time, PCH recognizes the right of any network operator to --within reason-- optimize the function of their network through traffic engineering and protect it against criminal abuse through filtering, the inspection of traffic headers, and occasionally even deep packet inspection. Far more important than those rights, however, are that they be disciplined by market forces: consumers must be aware of network operators' practices, and have the real and practical freedom to switch from networks with practices they dislike to networks with substantially dissimilar practices.
We believe that:
Networks should not modify packets unless necessary, never without notifying the consumer, and never below the IP header.
Networks should publicly and accurately document their practices as they affect the passage of customer data.
Network neutrality regulation is unnecessary in a competitive marketplace.
Competitive marketplaces are very rare, and do not exist in, for instance, North America or most of Europe.
Where competition regulators fail to ensure the existence of a marketplace, telecommunications regulators must ensure that network neutrality is available to consumers.
Competitive discipline is always preferable to regulatory discipline, since competition encourages continuous innovation and improvement.
Packet Clearing House believes that the interconnection policies of networks which are not market dominant should not be regulated by government, since industry self-regulation has proven far more effective than attempts at governmental regulation. In the case of market-dominant networks which abuse their market power by refusing interconnection with their competitors or placing policy, technical, or capacity restrictions on interconnection, we believe that regulatory intervention is necessary. Speaking very generally, we believe that the first (and usually sufficient) step is to use the best-practice formulation: "All providers of Internet Protocol connectivity must deliver traffic which has both a domestic source and domestic destination without passing it across the national border." This formulation is not technologically prescriptive, and has collateral economic and privacy benefits.
Settlements of any sort are associated with less than one quarter of one percent of Internet interconnection agreements, and are far outside the mainstream of legitimate business practices. The absence of the economic friction of settlements is the primary reason the Internet has supplanted the Public Switched Telephone Network. Regulators and policy-makers should understand that settlements are anathema to Internet growth, and that anyone suggesting the application of settlements is doing so either from gross ignorance or in order to prevent the growth of the Internet, typically for anti-competitive reasons.
Packet Clearing House believes that any marketplace in Internet Protocol addresses must be regulated to ensure that recipients have qualified need as per RFCs 2050 and 7020. If parties without need were allowed to receive IP addresses, it would remove those addresses from the Internet, and deny users access. It would increase Internet access costs, while also simultaneously decreasing quality (because of NATs) and availability. It is not in the operational or economic interest of any user of the Internet, nor any Internet service provider, to allow parties without need to receive IP addresses.
Packet Clearing House believes that the RIR-designated holder of an IP address block has the unique right to designate the originating Autonomous System Number (ASN) and its adjacent ASNs, and that route recipients should both have the means to accurately ascertain this policy and enforce it within their systems. We do not believe that practical mechanisms currently exist to accurately ascertain routing policy, nor to enforce it. We believe that the development of practical, scalable, and resilient routing security mechanisms should be a high priority for the Internet technical community. We believe that any sufficient routing security mechanism must align costs and incentives appropriately, and not depend disproprortionately upon actions or assertions by parties external to the routing relationship.
Packet Clearing House believes that there are very few objective "best practices" that are universally applicable. While examples of good practices are extraordinarily valuable to network designers and operators, the designation of singular "best practices" both denies the very real differences in cultural, market, and technical conditions between regions and hampers the innovation and continuous evolutionary improvement that have allowed the Internet to develop. Certification of best practices is anathema to intelligent network design.
Packet Clearing House believes that cryptographic digital signatures indicate that the signer asserts the veracity of the signed document on the basis of personal knowledge. PCH believes that cryptographic signatures should not be applied by parties ignorant of the veracity of the document, on the basis of hearsay from others who do have such knowledge. We believe this as a matter of principle, not just as a practical limitation of risk in the unnecessary communication of documents and knowledge between parties. The inescapable conclusion we reach is that the IANA Function Operator should apply the Zone Signing Key to the root zone directly, rather than passing instructions indirectly to a separate Root Zone Maintainer via the intermediary agency of the U.S. government.
Packet Clearing House believes that the only useful or worthwhile standards are ones that are developed using the multistakeholder system, as embodied by the Internet Engineering Task Force. Such standards are referred to as "open standards," meaning that they are developed transparently by a group which has open, unrestricted membership, and the results are published openly, without fee or restriction on distribution. They do not contain or require the use of restricted intellectual property.
Packet Clearing House believes that oversight of the IANA function should be performed by the recipients of the function, through bilateral contracts between the IANA Function Operator and each of the three served communities, namely Protocols (the IETF), Numbers (the NRO), and Names (the successor to the CWG). PCH believes that the contracts should contain objective Service Level Agreements, should not contain presumptive renewal clauses, and should assume periodic recompetes.
Packet Clearing House believes the IGF has ongoing relevance, and supports its continued existence with the caveats that it should be better protected against organizational capture and that its function should be educational: it should not produce documents, findings, or calls to action.
From time to time, governments declare each other to be "oppressive regimes," or accuse each other of failing to abide by fundamental human rights of their constituents. Often, those accusations are substantive and demonstrably true. However, such accusations are often followed by embargoes, intended to punish the offending government. When embargoes prohibit the sale of weapons, they're a clear improvement to the human rights situation. By contrast, improving Internet access improves access to education, news, and opinion, and those benefit the people of a country more than their government, when their interests are not aligned. Bringing Internet education to a country which has provided poor human rights generally improves the situation, whereas denying that education harms people more than government. Internet education is, in the terms of international diplomacy, humanitarian aid rendered to the people of the world, and as such, the embargoes that govern commerce between specific countries are inapplicable. As a global organization, Packet Clearing House recognizes a humanitarian requirement to provide educational aid and assistance wherever people need it.