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Results of Domain Name Front Running Study

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.

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."