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eBay Changes Privacy Policy 16

Wired reports that eBay is changing its privacy policy. Previously they had promised that, if the company gets sold, your personal data will not be sold. Well, now it will be. Don't like it? Don't use eBay. Or any other site which, as "part of an industry-wide shift in privacy policy," decides to do this too. The funny thing is, eBay has spammed me a couple of times in the last six months with useless notices, after I specifically asked them not to. One was even to say basically, "you said you didn't want to receive spam, but we've expired that preference, so you'll have to tell us again, and meanwhile, have some spam!" But a change in their privacy policy -- they must not think that's very important, because I haven't heard a word.
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eBay Changes Privacy Policy

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    In my case, I got that message also. The only difference is I had my account on ebay removed two years ago. It seems like even if you ask for an account to be removed, they only hide it so people can't see if it exists, but on their system, its still there. Guess they do that in case I try to register again with the same email.

    Guess no matter what, once you're registered, there's no way you can keep them going ahead and selling your personal info. Guess the plus side is they haven't spammed me with the message about changing preferences. So guess that part I shouldn't have to worry about.

  • Donald Duck's middle name is Fauntleroy. Hopefully one of those merchants won't see your mistake or the jig is up. :)
  • Look, if you want privacy, you can have it. But it means severing all connections with the outside world and living in your own little cave somewhere.

    Ebay is bringing its privacy agreement not just in line with other internet sites but also with the outside world. If I auction something at Christy's, then anyone in the world can see what I'm auctioning and who I am. The same goes for the other auction houses.

    At least Ebay is letting you keep your privacy in the mean time. Just think of it as a reason why you should continue using their service: if they don't go out of business, then you don't lose any privacy. And if they do go out of business, you're already suffering, so a little additional suffering is no big deal.

    I cancelled my Ebay service a while ago. You don't see me crying.
  • Is there a good auction site left ? Yahoo bent over for the French, so they are out. Ebay is out mainly for pulling used software auctions on the behest of Microsoft, among other things. Both sites go beyond the restrictions required by law in all manner of ways -- take firearms for instance.

    So who is left ? Is there a decent operator out there ?

    Could we design an auction protocol that would use a decentralized method (say news group posts with bids in a special formatted reply, or something) ?
  • Check it out... in the e-mail they send to members, they don't even tell you what the new agreement is that you're agreeing to, you have to go to a web page (which can be changed w/o your knowledge).

    That's once you finally get to the web page!

    Apparently Ebay thinks that Opera is some sort of cell phone, so when I clicked on the link in the letter, they transmitted a 4-line search form instead of the promised policy page. I had to fire up Bloatscape just to find out what is going on.

    (No, I haven't used Ebay in quite a while.)

  • This is absolutely correct. The worst kind of thing which can happen to a database company (which is anyone on the 'Net) is pollution. They can filter out some stuff - anything with swear words for instance - but innocent-looking, seemingly realistic, and totally innacurate data is what affects the value a their database.

    In conclusion, actively misleading large companies (that sell your data to third parties) with "phun phorm philling" (sorry) is not only a good thing, but should be actively encouraged.

    Is there anything which cannot be programmed?
  • I suspect that perhaps they want to be able to sell their database more easily if they go out of business, or perhaps just turn something into a valuable asset. Yeah...

  • You can probably guess what kind of email address I hand out to on-line merchants

    Dear Mr Privacy Complaints,
    YOU CAN MAKE $$$ FAST!...

    Something like that? ;)

  • Here is a copy of the new privacy policy []. From what I now the new policy takes effect on May 15. eBay asks new site users to provide their addresses and phone numbers but does not sell such information to outside parties. The new policy makes clear, however, that eBay or its subsidiaries could merge with or be acquired by another business entity. Should such a combination occur, you should expect that eBay would share some or all of your information in order to continue to provide "service".
  • Sure, but how do I get out? I haven't used them in years, but once upon a time, back when they were new and hadn't yet ran an ad I used them a couple times.

    HOW DO I GET OUT OF THEIR SYSTEM! I've tried, there is no obvious way.

  • I did get an email saying that the privacy policy had changed. I immediately thought that they wanted to sell my data. However, I went to the FAQ [] about the changes, and couldn't find anything about selling data. Looking over the FAQ, I figured the most significant chage was this:

    eBay is Only a Venue. We have clarified what an "Online Auction" is by adding a definition. We have not changed our stance, we are still just a venue.

    I thought this was some sort of CYA thing by ebay to protect them from liability. However, after reading the Wired article, then going back, I see that the important part is this:

    General. We added an assignment provision, which means we could assign this relationship to another party.

    The "relationship" they talk about is your private data. So basically, you have to be a lawyer to know if you are getting screwed or not. Even when they tell you, they don't tell you! I guess you should just assume that any change in privacy policy means that they are selling your data, unless it is explicitly stated otherwise.
  • Check it out... in the e-mail they send to members, they don't even tell you what the new agreement is that you're agreeing to, you have to go to a web page (which can be changed w/o your knowledge). Nice way to have a binding contract done, eh?

    Changes to eBay User Agreement & Privacy Policy
    Sat, 31 Mar 2001 04:03:20 -0800
    "eBay Announcements"

    [line of equals signs that trips the lame filter]
    Changes to eBay User Agreement & Privacy Policy
    [line of equals signs that trips the lame filter]

    This administrative email was sent to based on your account at eBay.

    [line of dashes that trips the lame filter]

    Official Notice of Revision to the eBay User Agreement and Privacy Policy

    We are committed to improving your experience at eBay. We have modified the User Agreement and Privacy Policy based on suggestions from our users and to accommodate future site improvements. The User Agreement describes your rights and responsibilities while bidding and selling at eBay while the Privacy Policy describes the information we collect about you and what may happen to that information.

    To learn more about what was changed in the User Agreement, please go to html#4. To see the revised User Agreement, please go to . For additional information, please visit the User Agreement FAQ which is available at: .

    To learn more about what was changed in the Privacy Policy, please go to html#4. To see the revised Privacy Policy please go to .

    This agreement is effective on May 21st, 2001 for new registering users, and is otherwise effective on May 15th, 2001 for all users registered prior to May 21st, 2001.

    [line of dashes that trips the lame filter]

    As outlined in our User Agreement, eBay will periodically send you information about site changes & enhancements. If you would like to review your notification preferences for other types of communications, please visit html. Note that it may take up to 5 days to process your request. Visit our Privacy Policy at and User Agreement at if you have any questions.

    Copyright © 1995-2001 eBay Inc. All Rights Reserved. Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.

    Please include the following text in your reply.
  • SAN JOSE, Calif. (BS) -- eBay servers reportedly crashed today following a user's attempt to auction off his own profile information on the popular auction site. Sources familiar with the matter cited stack overflow as the likely cause.
  • by po_boy ( 69692 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @10:07AM (#318407) Homepage
    Since they have changed their privacy policy to allow different things in the event of a buyout or merger, do you think there is such an event on the horizon?
  • by human bean ( 222811 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @02:10PM (#318408)
    Buying and selling on-line is exactly the same as off-line.

    My "loyalty discount" cards are all filled out to "Donald A. Duck" (apologies to Roy Disney). Doesn't faze the clerk at the checkout counter one bit, and keeps all that firestarter out of my mailbox.

    You can probably guess what kind of email address I hand out to on-line merchants. And which phone number (apologies to whoever owns it).

    Of course, as far as on-line merchants know I'm in my thirties, have tons of disposable income, thoroughly married, and own three houses. It must be true. I filled out the check boxes on the HTML form.

    Marketing departments fear this stuff. When you are standing in front of the checkout counter, the nice person there can see that you are not a sixty-two year-old left-handed eskimo short-order cook, but on-line, how do you tell?

  • by LoCoPuff ( 1019 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @09:47AM (#318409)
    They even lost their BBBOnline seal. That takes quite a bit of effort. When are these companies going to learn that you can't push the consumer around? Oh yeah that's right. People are too busy pointing out the one or 2 mistakes that TrustE and BBBOnline make to pay attention to the fact that when they say a company sucks, it really does. There is no cure for stupidity folks.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb