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In an attempt to contribute to community discussion regarding domain name front running, ICANN commissioned a study to assess the occurrence of domain name front running. The SSAC defined domain name front running as "an opportunity for a party to obtain some form of insider information regarding an Internet user's preference for registering a domain name and to use this opportunity to preemptively register that domain name. In this scenario, "insider information" is information gathered from the monitoring of one or more attempts by an Internet user to check the availability of a domain name." Several members of the Internet community have expressed concern regarding the suspected occurrence of domain name front running.
Internet security expert, Benjamin Edelman [PDF, 36K], conducted a front running study at ICANN's request. In three rounds of tests over a ten-month period, Mr. Edelman searched for evidence of front running by leading domain registration and domain availability-checking sites. More than 600 tests yielded no evidence of front running.
Please see the Front Running Study: Testing Report [PDF, 120K] for details regarding the methodology used and study findings.