a) Afilias is a Verisign puppet;
One definition of the word puppet is: "one whos acts are controlled by an outside force or influence".
Afilias is a joint venture of eighteen current domain name registrars, including Network Solutions (a.k.a. VeriSign). Obviously the individual Afilias members want to greatly distance themselves from the NSI name since most people consider them to be a monopoly. Afilias wisely did not put any NSI members on its Board. But, there is a former ICANN member on the Afilias Board!
ICANN has had a direct influence on the creation of Afilias. Ken Stubbs is Chair of the ICANN Names Council; one of 13 members of the board of Afilias; Chairman of the Executive Committee, CORE; Vice President, Domain Bank; and VP & Director of iDomain, Inc. Mr. Robert F. Connelly, also one of the Afilias board members, is a member of Executive Committee of CORE, and the management of Procurement Services International (Japan), Inc., one of the nineteen registrars composing Afilias. Hal Lubsen, part owner and management of Domain Bank (one of the nineteen registars composing Afilias) is a member of the Executive Committee of CORE and an Officer, Director and Shareholder of idomains.
Of the 44 applications submitted to ICANN -- only 7 were chosen. Of the 7 chosen, 3 of them can be directly linked to Ken Stubbs. So there is a direct correlation between Afilias and CORE! There is also an obvious connection between VeriSign and ICANN. The missing link is Ken Stubbs! He is the bridge that ties ICANN (and VeriSign) to CORE (and to Afilias by association).
b) Afilias has not deployed the technical systems specified in their ICANN contract (thus presumably breaching the contract)
Let's start with the obvious - the system doesn't work! Afilias described in section D 15.2.11 of their application that: "the Afilias registry will set a minimum standard availability for all services at 99.9 % availability." Almost as if making a prediction (in Part 2 of their proposal) Afilias stated: "Afilias will provide a seamless, responsive, and reliable domain name registration service. Currently, registrars' services are hampered by monthly registry outages of up to multiple hours per month" Could you please tell us how many DAYS has the Afilias system been down now? I'm sure it is more than "multiple hours".
The Afilias contract said that that Exodus would host the physical servers and systems for both the primary and secondary locations. While it's true that Exodus has gone bankrupt, they were not bankrupt when Afilias ignored this part of the contract. Afilias proposed quite an elaborate server farm, and redundant data centers. Where are they? As far as anyone can tell, Afilias has a single data center
with only 2 front-end web servers and a single, underpowered database. (As the previous poster so elegantly stated: "A simple port scan, DNS trace and machine ident is all it takes to see that this is true.")
Image Online Design was criticized soundly for what ICANN considered a clearly deficient marketing plan. ICANN was very impressed by the marketing plan that Afilias outlined in their contract. Afilias said that they had retained Hill and Knowlton to assist it in developing an international public relations campaign. They specifically pointed out that: "As a subsidiary of WPP, Hill and Knowlton also brings the expertise of Blanc & Otus, and the advertising and marketing expertise of OgilvyOne". I haven't seen any advertising for .INFO! In fact, nobody that I know has seen a single advertisment for Afilias! Where is this wonderful marketing plan that ICANN loved so much?
The Afilias proposal also called for a test environment in order for new registrars to become operational, and to test their own systems in a non-mission critical environment. So, if all of this testing was done -- why is the live registration system not working?
Also, if you could, please tell us where the Afilias headquarters is? One of the reasons Afilias was selected is on the basis that they would have a centralized and well-staffed corporate headquarters. Where is it? How many staff members are there? For that matter, how many employees does Afilias have?
Finally, what about Afilias' funding commitment? The Afilias contract mandates an amount of money that (rumour has it) hasn't been reached. See: Is Afilias Living Up To Its Promises?. Obviously this is just a rumour. But, issues like financial stabiliy do concern people. Afilias or ICANN could, in the spirit of transparency, put this rumour to rest once and for all. Just come out and tell the public the the truth about the funding! Instead, both parties have been silent. Why?
c) Afilias and ICANN are collusive to the point of breaching anti-trust/anti-competition regulation.
As the previous poster pointed out - this is for a court of law to decide. I would love to hear Michael or Milton's thoughts about this. But, in my humble opinion, yes, ICANN, VeriSign and Afilias are all in violation of anti-trust laws! The Sherman Act states:
Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony...
This sounds like what ICANN, VeriSign and Afilias are trying to do to me. But, then again, I am not a lawyer or a judge. It is not within my power to make that decision. If it was... most of the members of ICANN and Afilias would already be in jail! Maybe all of us should spend some time reading the U.S. Department of Justice: Antitrust Division web site and consider reporting any possible violations.