What's up@RIPE80, not in Berlin?

2020-05-06 News

By Monika Ermert, eLance journalistHans Petter Holen, Chair of the RIPE community since 2014, will change roles. Last Friday, the Executive Board formally announced that he had started his role as the new Managing Director of the RIPE NCC. For the upcoming RIPE 80 meeting, which will be held virtually starting Tuesday 12 May, Holen will act as both RIPE Chair and NCC Managing Director, to preside over a reduced, but still pretty packed agenda.

Well-known candidates for Chair and Vice-Chair

With Holen‘s switch of post, the 10-member RIPE Nominating Committee has announced that they will not follow the timeline that was originally foreseen for the transition from the current to the new RIPE Chair. Instead of waiting for the RIPE 81 meeting, the Nominating Committee will announce the new RIPE Chair and the first ever RIPE Vice-Chair on 15 June, Daniel Karrenberg, head of the Nominating Committee and RIPE NCC Chief Scientist wrote.

The main reason for this change of plans is so that Holen does not need to be in this double role for long. Holen, who was the CISO at Norwegian Visma until he became the new RIPE NCC manager, himself helped to prepare the formal procedure to select the future RIPE Chair and had at first added his name to the candidacy list. Now four candidates remain.

The two women, Filiz Yilmaz, Mirjam Kuehne, and two men, Nigel Titley and Niall O‘Reilly, are well-known in the RIPE community. To allow for the RIPE community to have a say in the choice the 10-member NomCom will make, the online consultations will take place on Friday 15 May (11:00-15:00). More info on the process and potential funding of the Chair is here.

Old faces, new faces, sanctions and a troll

There are even more positions to be filled, namely three of the five posts in the RIPE Executive Board, which oversees the activities of the RIPE NCC and which, for example selected Holen just ahead of the meeting. Of the three Executive Board members whose terms are ending, two are running again, Maria Häll, CEO for SUNET, Swedish University Network, and Christian Kauffmann, VP of Network Technology at Akamai Technologies. So far RIPE members have a clear tendency of sticking to those volunteering to continue in their roles, and perhaps this will give the two sitting candidates a head start.

But with another 11 candidates there is quite a pool to choose from, and quite a lot of politics is involved. For one there is a record number of six candidates from Iran. The influx of candidates could be connected to recent developments with regard to RIPE NCC freezing the assets of two of its roundabout 400 Iranian RIPE members and one Syrian member.

According to Felipe Victolla Silveira, Chief Operations Officer, the RIPE NCC was not keen to take this step, but considered it the “best option under the circumstances”. As an organisation based in the Netherlands, “we have to adhere to all applicable sanctions”.

At the same time the organisation was urgently seeking “clarity from the Dutch authorities on whether the sanctions are really intended to apply to the provision of Internet number resources”, Silveira said. Internet numbers should be exempt from political disputes, the Executive Board has underlined in its statement, and the current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to the network.

How good are the chances of the Iranian candidates? Hopefully better, some members say, than for an Israeli campaigning on a long list of promises to the RIPE community, from RIPE offices in all capitals of the region to lower registration fees. All at the same time.

The candidate has been the target of some remarkable allegations, such as from Spamhaus-related security researcher Ronald Guilmette, who listed a number of IP address ranges from public authorities around the world he said the Israeli had squatted or stolen. While the accused reacted by announcing that if elected he would purge Spamhaus from the RIPE community, an article in a South African paper checked out the accusations and concluded for several ranges of African authorities that they appeared to have been misappropriated as described by Guilmette. The saga is rocking the RIPE community e-mailing lists, with communications deteriorating to the point of requiring moderation.

Other candidates for the Executive Board include the rather well-known Raymond Jetten, Sergey Myasodedov and Jordi Palet Martinez. Martinez is currently is at the center of another controversial discussion about a stricter oversight for RIPE NCC on the abuse handling of the RIPE members – in January 2020, he pointed to the weak representation of French companies in the RIPE community, which, he suggests, creates worse conditions for abuse management.

At the time of publication, 2272 members had registered to vote on the candidates, the annual report, the financial report and the registration fee structure.


After it became clear that RIPE 80 would become a virtual edition, RIPE management and program committee members considered a very short gathering not least because RIPE meetings are “meetings” of members.

Yet, when the program finally came out it looked very similar to any away-from-keyboard edition. Starting Tuesday instead of Monday, there are abbreviated plenary meetings on Tuesday and Thursday, and short meetings of the Address Policy, Connect, Cooperation and NCC Services WGs on Wednesday and IOT, Data Base and Open Source WGs on Thursday. For Cooperation an interesting debate over the “new IP” proposals discussed at the ITU can be expected. The RIPE expert on the issue, Marco Hogewoning, has laid out RIPE’s concern about what he fears could be a top-down version of standardization.

The DNS WG decided not to meet during the virtual meeting, but are instead exploring the possibility of meeting virtually on a regular basis now. During the first edition on 15 April, the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on root zone signing ceremonies were addressed. Other DNS WG meetings will take place via Zoom on 6 May, 27 May, 17 June and 8 July.

Member and non-member participants can also look forward to seeing how the community plenary will work out, the results from the virtual hackathon (that can still be joined this week) and the taste of a virtual RIPE dinner on Thursday night.