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War breaks out over Afilias cock-up resignation

Nasty. Plus why is there now a new Afilias company?

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War has broken out following the surprise resignation of board member Robert Connelly from Afilias - the registrar in charge of the .info top-level domain.

Mr Connelly pulled out, quoting the company's cock-up with dealing with new .info domains and its failure to rectify the situation as his reason. He also announced that his company PSI-Japan (one of the main members of Afilias) would sell its stake in the conglomerate.

Following a request for more information, Mr Connelly told us his decision was to dispose of PSI-USA (PSI-Japan's stake in Afilias) but he would stay on the board if the new owner wanted him to. "However, that is not very likely to occur," he wrote in an email.

Irish Lore

Asked exactly why he had quit, he told us: "It is just that I am dissatisfied with the way the company is being run and feel impotent to affect the course being followed. Excom and management say they cannot tell the Members and Directors anything that they don't tell to the non-member Afilias Accredited Registrars. They attribute that rule to ICANN. I feel that Irish law probably does not recognise such a rule and that Irish law would prevail in cases of conflicts between ICANN rules and Irish law. But I am in Japan and have no access to an Irish lawyer."

Afilias certainly seems to think it is right in its approach. It said in an official statement today: "Mr. Connelly has been persistent in his quest to use his board seat on Afilias to obtain privileged information in advance of other registrars and to exert undue influence on the Registry's policies and actions.

"Our agreement with ICANN, and our position of public trust in regard to operating the registry, specifically precludes us from favouring one registrar over another, regardless of whether they are an Afilias owner or not, either in the provision of information regarding our operations or in allowing undue influence over operational decisions."

There's more: "Mr Connelly's actions appear to reflect his frustration with his inability to force the registry to yield to his demands, and his public display only serves to reinforce the Registry's resolve to live up to both the spirit and letter of our agreement with ICANN in an open and transparent way."

Connolly's demands were that Afilias give him a list of the domains registered during the "sunrise" period for trademark holders. There have been a large number of pirate registrations - thought to run into thousands - the very situation the sunrise period was set up to avoid.

It gets more intriguing though. In an email that Mr Connelly sent to the top people in ICANN, including chairman Vint Cerf, chief registrar liaison officer Dan Halloran, President and CEO Stuart Lynn, lawyer Louis Touton, chief policy officer Andrew McLaughlin and, of course, Afilias itself, Mr Connelly points out that the very information he has been asking for has suddenly been made available - just 30 hours after he had announced his intention to sell PSI-USA.

According to Connelly, he was promised the information on 14 August but had had enough by Thursday (6 September) and announced his intention to quit. The day after, all Afilias registrars were offered an "abbreviated Zone file" containing the registered sunrise domains if you faxed over a specific form.

Connelly wrote in the email that the Afilias management was "out of control". He also said that the Afilias management had already created a new company called Afilias USA, without informing directors of Afilias members. The new directors of Afilias USA are to be the same as the current Afilias. Mr Connelly feels this action goes against Irish law.

Clearly, some important questions need to be answered. ®

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Afilias founder company quits over .info cock-up

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