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The Security News Site For Systems Administrators & Hackers Friday, 19th September 2014 @ 20:50:09 GMT 
Reports | Ebay Censoring "inappropriate content"
{17th Mar 2003}
Ebay, the self described "World online marketplace" is censoring Americans among others on its portals, preventing access to certain items which it deems to be 'inappropriate'.

The following message greets users who are attempting to view inappropriate items:

--- Dear User:

Unfortunately, access to this particular category or item has been blocked due to legal restrictions in your home country. Based on our discussions with concerned government agencies and eBay community members, we have taken these steps to reduce the change of inappropriate items being displayed. Regrettably, in some cases this policy may prevent users from accessing items that do not violate the law. At this time, we are working on less restrictive alternatives. Please accept out apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you, and we hope you may find other items of interest on eBay.

Thank You.

Screenshot: http://www.rootsecure.net/content/temp/ebay_censoring.jpg

One such item is titled "1944 Service Mens Telephone Handbook Bell Sys" with the description:

--- This neat old book measures just 3" x 4". It is filled with all kinds of things from places to visit in Chicago, How to call long distance and a rank insignia guide for Army, Navy and the Marines. Also has a place for notes and numbers. Unused, great condition. Shipping will be $1.00.

Was blocking this auction a "regrettable" mistake, or are 59 year old tourist guides for service men illegal under some new American law Rootsecure.net is unaware of?

Testing was carried out to determine how eBay was implementing the the blocking, however the results were inconclusive:

  • AT & T WorldNet customer on an IP address (12.249.***.*) registered to Parsippany, NJ unable to access auction, using a Mac and unrevealing "user-agent" string.
  • AT & T WorldNet customer unable to access auction through a proxy hosted by Pipex Internet UK.
  • AT & T WorldNet customer unable to access auction through a UU Net UK proxy (62.189.34.62) bounced through a proxy hosted by Pipex Internet UK.
  • AT & T WorldNet customer able to access auction through a Perl anonymous web based proxy.
  • UK Pipex internet customer able to access auction through Pipex UK IP address, and UU Net UK proxy.

Background: Google for eBay's message

Thanks to W1nt3rmut3 for informing Rootsecure.net about this issue, and providing the screenshot.