Mirjam Kühne

The RIPE Chair Team Reports - Highlights from RIPE 82

Mirjam Kühne
Contributors: Niall O'Reilly
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This May we held our third virtual RIPE Meeting. And, although a certain feeling of online meeting fatigue has inevitably set in for many of us by now, we nevertheless saw presentations on a range of interesting topics accompanied by good discussion.


This was our third virtual meeting. And many of us hope it was the last fully virtual meeting. Our community thrives on trust and informal and face-to-face information exchange, but it's hard to make new connections and build trust with an image on the screen. This is especially so, I think, for new community members. As you can imagine, this was a recurring topic of conversation during the meeting.

On the other hand, I am really impressed by the collaborative attitude and outlook the RIPE community has adopted all through this pandemic. The whole world is relying on the Internet. It has become an even more essential tool than it already was. It has proved to be reliable under immense stress and that’s also thanks to all of you who keep the net running and continue to keep it stable and accessible. You should be proud of that.

The pandemic is not the only challenge we’re facing. As a community we need to demonstrate that we are an important voice in the operation of the Internet and an essential player in the Internet Governance ecosystem. This last year has proved this.

RIPE 82 in Numbers

  • Registered attendees by end of meeting: 1,190
  • Newcomers: 258
  • Unique viewers via Meetecho: 627
  • Kids using the childcare service: 5
Screenshot 2021-05-31 at 16.26.40.png

Highlights

The RIPE Programme Committee (PC) put a great plenary agenda together with a mix of presentations relevant to the community. With the terms of two PC members having ended, we saw Franziska Lichtblau re-elected and we welcome a new member on the PC, Milad Afshari (you can find an earlier article of his on RIPE Labs). Milad will take Jelte Jansen's seat - and on that note, I'd like to say a very big thank you to Jelte for all his valuable contributions to the PC over the last few years. As always, you can find out much more about the work of the PC and the current PC members on the RIPE NCC's website.

Below is a personal snapshot of some topics that were presented during the plenary. There were many more interesting presentations.

Community Wellbeing - The Resilience of the Human Network

As mentioned in earlier updates from the RIPE Chair Team, this is a topic close to my heart. Especially during this pandemic where we cannot physically see each other, we need to make sure we're looking after each other and openly speak about problems we're facing: some of us feel isolated, others are overwhelmed by trying to balance work, childcare and private life. In order to find out more about the wellbeing and mental health of our community members, we put out a survey prior to RIPE 82. During the meeting Erik Bais presented the aggregated results (slides, video). It was great to see so much positive feedback on the chat and also in the presentation ratings. We will continue to keep the discussion around this topic going - watch this space.

Encryption

I was excited to see this topic on the agenda, presented by Stephen Farrell and Patrik Fältström (slides, video). It's not often discussed at RIPE or at other technical events, because we're all pretty much taking it for granted. However, the use of encryption makes the job of others such as law enforcement agencies more difficult. This leads to conflicting requirements and there is currently no clear solution in sight. This is illustrated by the guiding principles the European Commission has recently published (see below). Patrik Fältström urged the audience to think about what this implies.

Screenshot 2021-05-31 at 13.46.27.png

NIS2

Following up on earlier discussion on the Cooperation WG (LINK), Marco Hogewoning, External Relations Manager at the RIPE NCC, gave a short update (slides, video) about the impact the new Network Information and Security Directive (NIS2) might have on network operators and especially DNS providers. By trying to legislate the DNS, and more specifically the root server system, it would be harming the multistakeholder model and the open Internet. This is not only a EU issue; it's a global problem. Thanks to engagement by the RIPE NCC and other community members, operators of the root and small DNS operators are now out of scope in the new version of the directive. At the moment, however, this is only a proposed amendment, and has to be agreed by Parliament. If you think this directive is a concern, reach out to the European Commission and your local Members of Parliament.

DNS Evolution - "It's life Jim, but not as we know it!"

In another of his typical doom-scenario presentations (slides, video), Geoff Huston looked at the status of the DNS and what is driving development these days. Geoff says that "the applications are now the driving force of the Internet" and that the DNS and the name space are not part of the infrastructure anymore, but are instead application-centric. Despite the timezone challenge, Geoff managed to give four talks during the RIPE Meeting week :-)

Highlights - Working Groups

All RIPE Working Groups (WGs) met during the week and, as we only had one track, you could in principle participate in all WG sessions. Not many of you will have had the time to do this, so here are some topics discussed during the week:

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct Task Force held a BoF during RIPE 82. Rather than going over the actual draft code of conduct that was published on 4 March 2021, which is close to final, the TF used the time to gather feedback about the next document listed on their charter - the formation of the Code of Conduct Team. The TF is now incorporating the last feedback received on the document and will send the next and possibly final version to the RIPE mailing list shortly.

Conclusion

The meeting set-up was close to perfect and, in feedback and conversation, we often heard that this was "close to the real thing". Many thanks to the RIPE NCC staff for running such a smooth meeting. Unfortunately, nothing can really emulate meeting people in person. The virtual format limits the social and networking aspects at RIPE meetings. Even though we created more space and time for discussion and interaction at this meeting, we felt that the community is simply tired of meeting online. We're all very much looking forward to our next hybrid meeting. Despite all that, some important topics were discussed and progress was made in the working groups.

We also heard that we talked a lot about formalities and processes at the meeting rather than really diving into the content. This came up especially during the (community) plenary sessions where everyone is listening and where, as was quite rightly pointed out, we should really be getting into the content. Personally I also feel I've spent a lot of time on documenting processes and writing guidelines recently. But I am confident that this will become less so as we move on and that we can focus on the "actual work" again. At least that should be the case for the community. Our role as RIPE Chair Team is to make sure the community functions well and to facilitate and support the community to do its work. So, with more of our traditions and practices documented, I hope it will make it easier for you - and also especially new participants - to address the topics relevant to the RIPE community.

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About the author

I studied Computer Science at the TU Berlin, Germany, and have been a member of the RIPE community for over twenty years. Currently I am serving as the Chair of the RIPE Community.

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