"Front running" is a term to describe what occurs when an unscrupulous system logs the domain name searches that you type into a whois search engine, and if the domain name is available, the system automatically registers the domain name for itself. For what purpose? For selling the domain name at a higher price, and for only their customers...
It has just been publicly acknowledged that Network Solutions engages in just this practice.
Incredible. If you go to Network Solutions' website and enter any domain name in their whois search engine, it will be automatically registered with Network Solutions as the owner and contacts. Then, if you try to register the domain name at a later time (within 5 days), you will only be able to register it at Network Solutions, and at a higher price than normal!
The excuse given by Network Solutions is that - if you can believe it - is that they are doing this to protect their customers. As far as I know, however, one does not become a customer by simply doing a whois search, and I hardly see how the practice of front running protects one from front runners...
Though there are now many bloggers and reporters discussing this, you can read about it in more detail here, and see an example of this being done before your eyes.
Needless to say, Gandi does not engage in this practice. Anyone is free to search domains using our whois search engine with the knowledge that we will never go behind your back to steal your domain and try and sell it at a higher price to you, or the best bidder. Want proof? Use our whois search engine to test random domains - you will see that they will remain free
We will be happy to answer any of your questions regarding this, and welcome any discussion regarding domain name registration or the whois database. Has something like this happened to you before? Please share your story!