This is the editorial opinion of Moustafa Amin, a technology leader with over 20 years of professional experience at large organizations, service providers and telecom companies.
“Bitcoin Not Blockchain”
If you are a regular reader of Bitcoin Magazine or if you are a general Bitcoin enthusiast, you may have seen this motto. I have gone through it so many times and I agree with it 100%.
There can be a slight exception sometimes, such as when the scope is limited, the context is private and no encryption is needed but in most cases it is always wise to use bitcoin.
Let’s analyze an imaginary case study around IP addresses using the “traffic light” analogy – yellow, red, and green.
I assume that readers are already or at least familiar with how data transmission takes place over the internet based on the IP protocol (TCP/IP if we want to be technically correct). Technology readers may know more about internet protocol (IP) addresses, like IPv4 and IPv6.
Try with Google “Who controls the IP address?” You will quickly get “IANA: Internet Assign Numbers Authority.” IANA is the top-level authority behind the allocation and allocation of IP addresses. There are five different regional internet registries (RIRs) with jurisdiction under IANA.
In fact, as an individual or a normal internet user, you cannot request an IP address directly from IANA or one of the five RIRs, but only from internet service providers such as such as services provided by mobile or telecommunications operators.
From this architecture, you can envision a central database of IP addresses held and maintained by IANA.
Let’s assume that one day IANA decides to launch a blockchain version of its IP address database, is that a legit project? The answer depends on their approach and their intentions in doing so.
Before we continue, let’s agree on a few points:
- The term blockchain does not always refer to the underlying technology of Bitcoin as invented (or discovered) by Satoshi Nakamoto. Instead, it has become a marketing term widely used by vendors as a buzzword to describe their products in a private or public context.
- Even with the decentralized version of the IP address database, the IP addresses will always be under the control of IANA. These resources will never be transferred to the public community.
If IANA cares about the integrity, safety and security of their existing centralized IP address database and wants to make it decentralized on a blockchain by having database copies seperate identical are kept in distributed geographies for decentralization and redundancy, they will be looking for a solution that will be a combination of decentralized storage (IPFS for example) and private blockchain (cloud-based or open source). This can be compared to AWS blockchain, Hyperledger, Multichain, etc.
In this case, each regional RIR will be responsible for several nodes running this private blockchain. Each node sends and receives updates over the blockchain while storing an always-up-to-date identical copy of the IP address database.
There is no need for tokens in this solution and the entire solution will be maintained by nodes under IANA or RIR jurisdiction. In fact, IANA can pause, stop, restart, truncate or even delete parts of this private blockchain at their will.
This case is not fundamentally different from the current situation where IANA can change or even delete parts of their centralized database’s IP address database (if they so desire). I’m not saying they will, but they can.
This link is labeled “yellow” because it is acceptable because it does not represent any risk to outsiders, i.e. no investor will spend money to buy the token.
What if IANA decides to launch their version of blockchain IP address as a smart contract dApp – using some platform like Ethereum, or even a separate public blockchain – and crypto whole and maybe run crowdfunding events to distribute these tokens? I won’t waste your precious time discussing this scenario further: This will make it no different than the other 20,000 useless altcoins out there!
What if IANA was smart enough to keep their database of IP addresses truly decentralized on the only truly decentralized blockchain – Bitcoin – and allow payments in sats? One possible option could be an application built on top of Bitcoin or the Lightning Network and integrated with a distributed off-chain storage.
Distributed storage will store real IP addresses along with their respective owners. This will happen off-chain to avoid overwhelming the Bitcoin network, but indexes for database entries can be stored on-chain.
To combat Bitcoin’s impersonation, customers (vendors or operators) will still be required to provide identifying information in order to take full ownership of their IP address. Unfortunately, this will be completely KYC-compliant with online surveillance, as you might have guessed.
Regardless of the abundance of IP addresses, they are limited by nature, meaning that IANA cannot mint or generate new addresses from thin air.
Quick fact: there are less than 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses sold (IPv4 address exhaustion started in 2011), while there are 340 trillion, trillion, trillion IPv6 addresses – a single number extremely huge to allocate a minimum IPv6 address divided by 32 equal to the number of all existing IPv4 addresses.
Since all transactions will be permanently stored on the ledger, IANA cannot mess around and resell the same chunk of IP address to another owner. These are named “IP address blocks”, not to be confused with Bitcoin blocks.
The ideal path
What if we replace gated and polled IP addresses with new Bitcoin-based internet addresses? These addresses will inherit all the features of Bitcoin i.e. they will be completely decentralized, secure, anti-future, powerful, anonymous, untraceable, unregulated by the air. has a single agency and many other addresses.
Is it just a dream? And now. If this is true, we will change the internet as we know it.
This is a post by Mustafa Amin. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.