ICANN probe insider domain name snatching probe

ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee is “investigating suspicions that insider information is being used to snatch desired domain names before an individual or business can register them.” The practice is referred to as “domain name front running” and likened to a stock broker buying or selling shares ahead of a client’s trade, in anticipation of a movement in price.Suspicions have been aroused where a potential registrant checks the availability of a domain name, but when they return to buy the domain name, it has gone. So do people have access to search requests whereby they gauge interest in a domain name. Potentially they can then attempt to sell the domain name to the party who was originally interested in registering the domain name.While the practice has never been proven conclusively, there are plenty of people who believe it does. One article on the issue from ARS Technica says, “ICANN recognizes the lack of regulation covering this area and makes it clear that a stronger set of standards needs to be established.”Meanwhile AP reports, “The committee said it wants to prevent ‘perception from evolving to accepted wisdom.'””The committee cited several ways front running may be happening, including the installation of viruses and other software programmed to collect such information and the use of unscrupulous third-party sites to check domain name availability. Coincidence also was cited as a possibility.”Further reports on the issue are available from:

For more information on ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee see icann.org/committees/security/. A copy of the report is available from icann.org/committees/security/sac022.pdf.

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