eBay might soon have to tell on you!
September 25, 2008

Check out an interesting article here.

The gist is that Congress is looking to pass bills that would require sites like eBay and craigslist to keep records on its users and share that information with Congress to assist with investigations of organized retail crime.

For example--and yes, this does happen throughout the US--groups form for the express purpose of organized shoplifting from retail outlets, then sell it online at eBay (perhaps even becoming 'Power Sellers' in the process?) for around 70% of its retail value. That's a huge loss to the stores, of course, because they paid more than that just to stock the item. It's a win for the thieves, though, because on street corners they'd only get around 30% of the value.

The bills, if passed, would allow the government to have access to all of the information eBay has about you, and eBay wouldn't be allowed to tell you when you were being investigated (or otherwise tip you off).

What do you think about this? I personally don't mind as much as perhaps I should. That's because I work at retail and I'm sick of the absurd amount of shoplifting that happens. Even here in a tiny coastal town, there seems to be professional shoplifting happening (alongside the obvious petty stuff like people stealing CDs and such). The amount of theft that goes on daily is just absurd. Something needs to happen to stop it and sites like eBay have been making it twice as profitable for crooks for years.

On the other hand, this does feel a bit like punishing the innocent people. Besides, a lot of time you can get the information you need just by completing a transaction. Would the government simply be requesting a record of sales following an arrest, or would it be responding with more invasive attempts? There's a lot to be concerned about here.

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Halon Halon - September 26, 2008 (01:15 AM)
I am 100% against this because it is a federal violation of liberty and unconstitutional. Plus I don't want someone keeping a list of everything I purchase.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - September 26, 2008 (05:05 AM)
I don't like the part about eBay not being allowed to tell you if you're being investigated. If the government is infringing on your privacy, you have a right to know. Moreover, this sounds like a textbook case of bureaucratic inefficiency. Instead of passing and enforcing some morally questionable online surveillance law, wouldn't the smart thing to do be, I dunno, cracking down on actual retail crime? You know, stop it at the source.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - September 26, 2008 (05:22 AM)
After reading the whole article, I don't see how anyone could justify this legislation. The whole idea is so morally questionable it isn't even funny, and it could cause all sorts of damage to online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

I wonder if maybe this another case of the Old Guard pressuring the feds to keep the New Guys under check, kind of like the RIAA and MPAA? I can imagine anonymous merchants on retailers like Amazon and eBay being perceived as a threat by offline retailers, and the latter using government connections to push this sort of crap as a means of muscling out this competition. What better way to get people to shop offline than to paint online marketplaces as a haven for scum and villainy?

Meanwhile, the lives of all the little people who've been making a living on Amazon or eBay become that much more difficult. Now they could be "potential suspects."
Genj Genj - September 28, 2008 (03:43 AM)
I don't want the government knowing how much hentai I'm ordering off eBay >:(

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