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updated 2/15/2008 7:59:04 PM ET 2008-02-16T00:59:04

An Internet committee investigating suspicious domain name transactions has found no evidence that insider information is being used to snatch desired Internet addresses to make money off the individual or business that actually wants to register them.

The committee said the 120 claims of "domain name front running" it reviewed generally resulted from misunderstandings about how the domain name industry works.

"When Internet users are unable to distinguish among different market activities, they often appear to conclude that they have fallen victim to a domain name front runner," the committee said in a new report.

In some cases, however, the committee found that a separate practice of domain name tasting may be causing problems. That refers to someone testing the financial viability of a name for up to five days and then returning it for a full refund, using a loophole in registration policies. Domain tasting can tie up millions of Internet addresses, including ones someone checks but does not buy.

The Security and Stability Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which has oversight of domain name policies and is known by its acronym ICANN, recommended better education so consumers know what to expect.

The report, brought before the ICANN board in New Delhi on Friday, did not examine a controversial practice by domain name seller Network Solutions LLC of grabbing names that people search for on its Web site but don't immediately register.

The company said it did that to keep the names from front runners. But the practice shared similarities with what Network Solutions was trying to prevent. It has made some changes in response to complaints, and its discussions with ICANN continue.

The ICANN committee said cases suspected of front running often turned out to be coincidence, with multiple parties interested in the same names.

Separately, ICANN has floated a proposal to charge its existing fee of 20 cents per domain name even if the name is returned, making tasting masses of names more expensive.

During ICANN meetings in New Delhi this week, many parties complained that the fee would penalize legitimate returns, such as ones to correct for typos, said Paul Twomey, ICANN's chief executive. The board took no action Friday.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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