DWP rules out IPv4 address sell-off despite online protest


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been forced to deny that it is hoarding 16.8 million unused IPv4 addresses.

It has been claimed that selling off the department's allocation of IPv4 addresses could generate around 1 billion, which would bolster the government's ongoing deficit reduction efforts.

Do you think 100k people care about IPv4 allocation in the UK?

An online HM Petition was recently set up, ordering the government department to surrender its block of IPv4 addresses, and at the time of writing around 1,000 people had signed it.

"Analysis shows that the DWP is not using any of these address in public...If they are being used for internal, private networks, then this is a phenomenal waste of public funds," said the accompanying petition blurb.

In a statement to IT Pro, a DWP spokesperson confirmed the addresses are in use and that selling them off would not be an option.

"We have used or allocated the vast majority of these IP addresses within the DWP and across government," said the spokesperson.

"There is no legitimate way for organisations with public IP address allocations to sell or trade those allocations on the open market."

This is not the first time DWP has moved to clear up reports that it is sitting on an untapped resource of IPv4 addresses, as IT Pro has been directed to a Freedom of Information Act response issued by the department about the same issue last December.

"DWP are aware that the worldwide IPv4 address space is almost exhausted, but knows that in the short to medium term there are mechanisms available to ISPs that will allow continued expansion of the internet," said the FOI response.

"Even if DWP were able to release their address space, this would only delay IPv4 address exhaustion by a number of months."

Last week, the European internet registry body RIPE NCC confirmed that it had started handing out IPv4 addresses from the last batch that it owns. This may go some way to explaining why the petition has come to light now.

Technology and science author, John Graham-Cumming, recently blogged about DWP's IPv4 address allocation, and told IT Pro, via Twitter, that he doubts the petition would make much difference.

"A petition needs 100,000 signatures to get heard...[Do] you think 100k people care about IPv4 allocation in the UK?" he said.

"Given that DWP says they are using [most of their allocation] and it would cost a lot to change, I consider the issue closed," he added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.