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The Internet

Ebay Seeks Federal Assistance In Banning User 200

stubob writes: "CNN.com reports in this article that Ebay wants a federal judge to ban a user for life for 'using foul language and flouting its own attempts to ban him.' Ebay's defense is that he is 'disrupting the normal course of conduct.' This could be a great precedent, for /. at least, and maybe would give someone incentive to go after spammers (or even phone solicitors.)" Being that Ebay is a private, voluntary enterprise, isn't this a bit like asking a federal judge to keep the neighbors' dog out of your yard? Sounds like the user has already been banned -- by Ebay. Perhaps what they really want is a restraining order?
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Ebay Seeks Federal Assistance In Banning User

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  • I could swear that your post said something about being humorous.
  • I just registered a new account on eBay (old one expired I think).. They didnt ask for a credit card #. Just name,address, and email. Had my account set up in 5 min.
  • Gasp. Civilization is disintegrating around us!! A person is using foul language in an auction site. Darkness is falling. Wild starving dogs prowl the streets. Incidents of cannibalism have been reported. God is dead.
    <BR>
    <BR>
  • Three times in one day, is it national censors day in some strange country far away and everyone wants to get in on the act?.

    what's more all three cases are completely unenforceable, I can't see them being able to stop people linking to drug related sites, or sites that link to drug related sites etc...... , I'm sure I've got a few games I didn't pay for lurking about somewhere and no one checked my age when I got them, and now they try to ban someone from ebay because they didn't use 'appropriate' language. I think word Ban should be classified as obscene, (unless it comes before Microsoft).

  • Sure, you get a federal court to say he's not allowed to visit their site... but how do they enforce it? What can a federal court do to stop him from hitting that web page that a firewall can't. (Not that even a firewall can since he seems to be swapping around IP addresses alot)

    This comes down to: The internet is still pretty annonymous, and there's really not much we could do about it even if we wanted to. I guess they could issue a restraining order and go after him for violating it if he's caught on the site again, but that's kind of like closing the barn door after the cows are already gone, assuming he doesn't just start going under another name. How would they know it was the same guy.

    I just don't get what Ebay thinks a court can do for them.

  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @04:46AM (#935365) Homepage Journal
    E-bay's site is (quite obviously) a place of business, or more properly, a service offered on the company's premises (the servers). Any business has the right to refuse service to any particular customer, and in this case, the guy has deservedly brought on that refusal.

    Continually reestablishing accounts under false identities is patently bogus, and all E-bay is doing here is loading up the "contempt of court" gun on this guy. If he comes back again, the courts can throw the book at him. What other option does E-bay have???

    Descrimination based on sex, race, or other criteria is already covered under the law in various jurisdictions (some cover sexual orientation, others do not). This has nothing to do with this case...

  • An injunction is one of the ordinary common law remedies for trespass. Basically, you can get money for the past trespasses, and an order for the miscreant to STAY OUT.
  • so is he not allowed to come within 3 IP addresssed of 216.32.120.133 or what?
  • What do trolls eat?????
  • It's nothing to do with eBay. Complain to their ISPs that they're violating the newsgroup charter by posting commercials. Try and get them yanked from their ISPs.
    Sounds like a very clear case of a breach of AUP to me.
    dave
  • I wonder whether eBay has considered what will happen when word of this gets out? The internet is full of obnoxious @ssholes who like to say/do things just to piss other people off, and without a doubt a few thousand of these will start visiting eBay regularly the moment they hear that there's a well defined and easy way to piss people off there. You'll probably be seeing a link to the piss-eBay-off HOWTO before long, and seeing links to where you can download scripts to make it easier.

    --
  • yeah, yeah, you saw my nick, right? C'mere and give old Richard a hug!

    -Sincerely
  • > Actually, it was me... I set up a script to dial in to ISPs, create random email addresses at free email services, and randomly make accounts at ebay, posting large ammounts of profanity. they ban me, and i make another account at an ISP, and i've got another username, etc...

    Sounds like Jon Katz trying to get us to see his stories.

    Hmmm. I wonder if they'd call the law if he started posting them on eBay?

    --
  • Actually, in many ways you're right. Maybe it is stupid to give people my real details, it makes me wonder about changing my /. details actually.

    I really was not trying to start a /. flame session. You're right : Don't feed the Trolls. After all, it only makes them hungrier for more.

    By the way, your quality of posting is good. Even if you make me look bad on a few points, this is the level of comment I dream of /. having.

    >> None of them claim copying and distributing MP3
    >> is legally correct, or morally, for that
    >> matter.

    > Really, brainiac, I could swear you just said
    > they did. Oh well, must be my mistake.

    No, in general. It's become acceptable to pirate music via MP3, but it's admitted that's it's illegal, like driving above the speed limit, or smoking weed.

    Morally? As a (sometime) musician, I do have a pro-recording artist perspective on this. I agree that the companies exploit both the artist and the consumer. But still, if making music is your way of making a living...

    Braniac? Nah, straight C student me :)

    >> I REALLY don't want to turn this into a
    >> stupid /. flame war.

    > Then STFU already.

    I really wasn't trying to start one.

    Mong.


    * ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *
  • Violating his civil rights as a sufferer of Tourette's syndrome.

    if it ain't broke, then fix it 'till it is!
  • I complain to the ISP's as well, but since the worst the ISP's can do is cancel his account, it simply doesn't discourage them. The number of free ISP's/Email addresses is infinite. But if I have the page they are advertising taken down? Well, that's much more inconvenient for them. Especially if it's a small business starting it's first foray into the world of spamming. Any work they've done on submitting their site to search engines, business cards, etc, all has to be re-done. It's a much more effective way of stopping the spam than getting a spammingfscker@hotmail.com email pulled, that doesn't hurt them at all.
  • This is correct. The user is tresspassing onto E-Bay's private server, and as such is violating the law. If a dunk man was slobbering on people in a McDonald's, they would have the right to call the cops. This is the same concept.
  • Nope...Only if you're placing bids of >$15,000 US
  • Please, let's not turn the power to collect sales taxes over to the federal government. The minute that happens, Congress will start putting conditions on how that money is distributed back to the states.

    One of the reasons that Governor Leavitt (along with several other governors) is interested in finding a way for states to collect sales taxes on internet-based purchases is to keep this power away from the federal government.

    As the amount of money involved in 'e-business' increases, it will not be ignored as a potential source of tax revenues. I'd prefer to keep this taxing power in the states rather than letting the feds get even more influence over local governments.

    (BTW - saying Leavitt is 'rabid' and 'spewing fire' about this issue is overstating things a bit.)
  • "For example, make karma invisible to the user. Make scores invisible to those lacking moderator points."

    Uhh, no. Problem: Scores are very useful to see when you want to "skim" the comments for what is likely "good stuff" so hiding them isn't cool. Karma, on the other hand, I suppose we could leave that a mystery. Not sure about that one, though. Mine sure hasn't gone up much...

    -cajun
  • You mean your (snail) mailbox isn't innundated with credit card offers?
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:50PM (#935381)
    They're not asking "the government" to ban the guy, they're asking a federal judge. Probably because they're in one state and he's in another. And what they're seeking is probably injunctive relief. Legislative action at the federal level can't be directed against individuals, since the constitution forbids bills of attainder.
  • But we're not talking about Nazi Germany here. This should be a pretty simple private property case. Because it involves written language, people sometimes think it's a free speech case.

    If the Aryan Nations applies for a permit to march here, the city is all but required to give them permission. That's free speech (and its a good thing -- even if the AN is not). If members of same said group show up at the mall and do a demonstration, they'll be hustled out on to the street in short order. A mall is private property, and it's guests can be chosen by the management as they see fit.

    If there is ANY issue to discuss here, it should be that many communities "public spaces" (i.e. shopping malls, business centers, /. ,etc.) are in fact privately owned, and what the ramifications are for free speech and expression in light of that.

    And no, the original post was really not that funny, but that's beside the point.
  • Why don't they just write a rude word filter?

    - Andy R.

    Y2K problem? Surely that means we've got 47.5 years to fix the bugs?

  • "there will never be a true armed Revolution in America until the police start treating white people the way they have historically treated Black people."

    I would ammend that statement to read "until police start treating the middle class the way they treat the poor."

    Having spent several years as a PWG (Poor White Guy) I can tell you that the police didn't give me any special treatment, let me off on traffic tickets, give me warnings or treat me with the basic courtesy that one ought to show another human. However, once I was able to afford a reasonably new car (I bought a '97 in '99) I saw my instances of being pulled over, searched & ticketed drop from once every month or two to once, period.

    The cop's logic goes something like this: The poor ones are more likely to steal, the poor ones are more likely to have warrants on them, the poor ones are more likely to be driving without insurance, or with a broken tail light. By pulling over a poor guy, he can write 4 tickets in one stop (I've gotten as many as 5 at once, all when I drove an old beat up "hooptie" car.)

    (Whenever I would drive my girlfriend's nice new car, using the same driving methods, in the same neighborhoods, the same cops would give me not a second glance.)

    Here's a lovely quote by my good buddy Kurt Vonnegutt Jr.

    "The two real political parties in America are the winners and the losers. The people refuse to acknowledge this. They claim allegiance in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead." -Kurt Vonnegutt, Jr.
    -The Reverend
  • please post any and all comments involving Open Source Man, slashdot-terminal, or the Slashdot Bitchslap as replies to this post.

    I still have no idea what's going on with osm, i have no pity for slashterm, and i don't particularly care, but i have a feeling this discussion is going to be littered with comments on this subject as they relate to what EBay is doing, and things would be a lot more tidy if all Bitchslap-related comments were all just dumped in one place.
  • eBay can kill off his identities, but not as fast as he can create them. Further, this has to do with interstate issues so they have to go to a federal judge. IMHO, this is exactly what should be happening.
    --
    Quantum Linux Laboratories - Accelerating Business with Linux
    * Education
    * Integration
    * Support
  • I beg to differ, sir.

    In a flower garden, a weed can't do you much good. In society, criminals are essential. It is inevitable that powerful men will pass bad laws. It's just an unchangeable fact of human nature. Therefore, it behooves any government which calls itself "for the people" to reasonably limit the authority with which government can enforce ANY law, because having someone get away with a real crime is better than having someone get caught for pissing off the Powers That Be.

    Saying that there is a "potential" for abuse is like saying that Windows has the "potential" to crash your computer. You're right; not all human life is special. Would you like your government to release a list of its "special" citizens? Or have it decided on a case-by-case basis by the cops? Or would you like a gov't that pretended that everyone was special, and gave rights and protections even to people that didn't deserve them?

    Classify the following as flowers or weeds: Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, John Scopes, Rosa Parks, Lenny Bruce. Each of these people was widely regarded as trying to damage society, and most of them were prosecuted for it.

    Slashdot's moderation rules bring wheat to the top (mostly), because they're engineered with the assumption that everybody is a greedy, abusive asshole who's trying to subvert the moderation system for their own selfish ends. America's laws bring freedom (used to, at least) because they're engineered with the assumption that politicians and policemen are evil, power-hungry tyrants who are trying to subvert the will of the system for their own gain. The laws that protect us from these guys set a few criminals free, yes. I like it that way.

  • There is one small logical flaw in your suggestion that this issue crosses state borders, and thus should be regulated by the "feds" not the state.

    It crosses the "feds" boundaries too. What if I (a US citizen) order something on the net from .au? Do I have to pay national sales tax (I know... there's no such thing, but JordoCrouse is essentially suggesting one)? Do I have to save all my receipts, and hand them in on April 15? How likely am I to actually do this?

    Remember: the internet is NOT national... it's bigger than that!

    -- Michael Chermside

  • God is most certainly not dead.... I keep seeing him pop up as the admin on every initial installation of slashcode....
    I'm just upset that the passwd is the first name of my manager Who promptly took over that account :)
  • Uhm yeah. That's easy -- delete all the user accounts and just drop back to showing news items with no discussion groupes. Major step forward.

    --Joe
    --
  • ...a kid posting idiocy to the Phorum message board...

    And then later:

    Being a rather large Marine...

    Ah, that explains why you don't know how to spell "Forum". :)

  • This is a valid question, not a troll.
  • by mong ( 64682 )
    Aren't people now going to start pretending they are him?

    Come on - /. is known for it's "playfull" element... one of you *must* have logged into EBay?

    Mong.

    * ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *
  • If they have tried to ban him, can't they consture his continued attempts to use their service as computer trespassing, thus press criminal charges? Why the injunction?
  • Do you really live in Mongolia?
  • That's pretty strange.

    Is there precedent for using the courts to ban someone from a private affair (school, eBay)?

    --
    Max V.
  • Anderson could not be reached for comment. He told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was being singled out by a group of eBay customers and that he had already said he would not return to the Web site.

    But a few lines up....

    Although the company has "terminated 40 to 45 of his accounts in the last three months alone," Anderson has circumvented the company's moves by re-registering under other identities, Pursglove said.

    I can see giving up after this happening once, twice, MAYBE three times. Does anyone honestly believe that he's not going to go back, when he went through the trouble of already creating *at least* 45 accounts?

    "I SWEAR, if this happens ONE MORE TIME......" <-- Said by Anderson 44 accounts ago.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • Why are people such prudes, is there any fundamental merit to someone claiming being offended by language?

    You misspelled,

    "What's the big fucking deal, bitch?" -- Eric Cartman


    NightParrot

    "It's not like it hurts anybody. Fuck, fuckity fuck fuck fuck."

  • Since it's a private company, it should be allowed to ban any user it wants.
  • You bring some interesting points that are spot on. Here's another example, just to give you a "what if" kinda thing.

    I work for a small company (about 15 people) and we sell our product mostly in our little state. We've been a good corporate citizen for more than 20 years, and we have the exclusive distrobution rights in wisconsin to handle a lot of differant products. That is to say, we're a local state company.

    If, on our web site, there is a user from another state that harasses our customers in our little discussion forum, can we shut him up for "disrupting interstate comerce"? If so, what would be our burden of proof in such a situation?

    My point being, does just having a presence on the net automaticly make you an interstate, or international comercial entity?
    ___

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Guido and Antony, two pipe swingin' brothers from da bronx.
  • Not in the State of Oregon. It's more polite to ask the person in charge, but if I start petitioning, they cannot leagally remove me (again, in Oregon).
  • by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @02:52PM (#935403)
    Some have taken issue that timothy has implied that /. might benefit from "virtural restraning orders", as it appears eBay is seeking.

    I dunno. It's clear that SOMETHING must be done to raise the signal to noise ratio back to what it used to be. After all, Slashdot's trolls are not simply J. Random Idiot crossposting as much crap as they can across usenet.

    Have a look at the multiple incarnations of the "inchfan" hidden forums for instance. The trolls here have mounted a deliberate, organised, campaign of attack and disruption against slashdot. These aren't your standard usenet idiots, these are a much more insidious form of troll.

    Perhaps the answer is to have the community itself do the policing. Rather than have a fiat handed down from Taco, Hemos, or any of the other editors (or in the case of eBay, whoever's in nominal control), the community could easily decide for ITSELF who is unredeemingly disruptive.

    Consider, we already have a karma system (and eBay has feedback) set up to filter the good posts to the top, and allow readers to bypass the trolls, astroturfers, first posters, "goatse.cx"'ers, gritsers, portmans, "steve woston"s and other miscelaneous crap. It should be relatively simple to establish a final, negative threshold beyond which it can be safely assumed that the troll in question has no redemming value. The script could automatically generate a notice to Andover's (or eBay's) legal team to lay down the restraning order on Slashdot's attackers.

    (Before anyone mentions the ability to post as anonymous coward, let me remind you that ACs are anonymous because /. ALLOWS them to be so. If you connect to /.'s server, they have an IP address... which could be easily logged... OR displayed with the post, as SOME message boards do. It would be no large effort to associate a karma score with any given IP address, just as well as with login names.)

    The community itself would, therefore, be making the decision, rathar than having it handed down by fiat. All Andover (or eBay) would have to do with the process would be to file the restraning order paperwork itself... no policing of their own.

    john
    Resistance is NOT futile!!!

    Haiku:
    I am not a drone.
    Remove the collective if

  • > Since it's a private company, it should be allowed to ban any user it wants.

    Not a place of public accomodation? (Whether spelled that way or any other.)

    --
  • I regard *your* comments as Trollish, his being more constructive, actually. I notice you don't put your name behind your comments?
    There's the name....email address...and URL. Happy?

    Justify This:
    ...

    I can't justify this. I don't have to. But I don't claim its Open Source.

    People claim this is "Open Source".
    Why do you believe what people claim? And who claims this? I know a ton of people who barely know what a computer is that use Napster and burn their own CDs...if I asked them what Open Source was they'd have no clue.

    I have a lot of clue what Open Source is all about. I actually live with one of the core Helix Code developers. I used to work with the Conglomerate guys. Also guys whose work is now in various Linux distros.

    I'm gonna take your work, be it school, artistic or "workplace" work, I'm gonna pass it off as my own

    But that's okay, becuase it's all in the Open Source spirit.

    I am proud of you. But, if you know what Open Source is...why do you claim it is a haven for criminals? Why do you claim the spirit of the movement is passing off others work as your own? Do you really understand what is behind the Open Source movement? This last statement makes me think you still believe it is free as in beer.

    The Open Source movement is not about getting other's work for free. Read ESR's THE CATHEDRAL AND THE BAZAAR and get a clue.

    I claim this is theft.

    I have a HD full of MP3, I feel slightly bad about it. But I listen, becuase it's become socially acceptable to steal music in this way.

    You keep going with what society deems as acceptable. When you get a your own opinion on the matter you come back and we'll discuss this again.
  • Yeah...I know I usually give up after 45 tries...luser...

    I could see creating a second account to evade something...but if you go through 45 accounts...are you really going to stop now?

    I would love to talk to this guy...And ask him how often he acts as a Troll on /.
  • Certainly, at the moment, it's not technically possible to ban a user - witness the success of k-lines on iRC (success == null). In the UK, where over 200 free ISPs exist (we pay for local phone calls instead), I have absolutely NO idea how they could block someone technically - and in the US, new IPs are pretty easy to come by too, I'm sure!

    So asking the courts to deal with it may, perhaps, force this particular user to stop abusing the service. But then the flood of cases which would follow would totally swamp a not-very-computer-literate legal system, and lead to chaos overall.

    I think I just argued myself into a corner. I have no idea what to do ;-)

    --Remove SPAM from my address to mail me
  • It is not a crime to be obnoxious to a company, so a restraining order would not be appropriate, legally. Harrassment is out of the question, because he bothers the users. Breach of contract won't work either, because the penalty of breach is termination. And, unless the man lives in Texas, the death penalty is out too.

    So, what can we do with the trolls? Even if a user of EBay filed a restraining order against the troll, how do you set the conditions? "You can't be within 3 clicks of this person at any time." That won't work. Again, we have a system of government that can't cope with change until a few years after the cause. Damn Republicans and their big government.
  • ... that Slashdot can finally ban all these "first post" morons?

    Ban them! Ban them all!
    --

  • Excellent point - I always assumed that that would be a sufficient deterrent from people making multiple accounts and buffing up their own accounts. Perhaps not.

    My thoughts to this is that eBay probably does not check to see if the credit card is a valid one, and that it belongs to your user information (address, etc.) I may sound harsh, but how hard/unreasonable would it be for eBay to require that you only use credit cards assigned to the same name and address as what you register with, and even initially charge $10.00 to start your account? (which would be refunded upon your first transaction)

    Please, no flames, as I'm no merchant, and honestly don't know what troubles/service fees such a process may incurr. I do know, however, that some merchants DO go to this extent to ensure that credit cards are valid.

    In short, my point is - I don't think eBay checks to see if your card number is valid, or if it's even assigned to you. (at least when you initially request a UID)
  • by pcidevel ( 207951 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:54PM (#935411)
    Seems that this is pretty close to the textbook definition of harassment. I would hope that we as entities in "cyber-space" could get a restraining order against a harassing user. IRL wouldn't you be a little concerned if you had had to remove someone from your personal property 40-45 times. After all the goverments main role is protection of its customers (both we the people and we the companies), so this seems like a classic example of why the government exists. Just because the offense took place on the internet does not mean the offense didn't happen (or that the goverment is censoring the internet when stoping it). After all why do you pay taxes everyday if not to have a hand in stoping people like this?
  • Yes, a great precedent.. WE definitely need a lot more laws restricting companies. I know I do.
    Spam should be opt-in only.
    phone solicting: also opt-in only. and make it mandatory to reveal the phone-number used.
    rights are for people, not artificial entities.

    //rdj

  • Criminal Courts involve the State (one of the 50, or the United States) vs. an individual. There is a prosecutor and a defendant.

    Criminal courts can also involve Commonwealths, of which there are 4, not just States (46). For instance, if you were in Kentucky [state.ky.us], Massachusetts [state.ma.us], Pennsylvania [state.pa.us], or Virginia [state.va.us], your case would be known as Commonwealth of KY/MA/PA/VA v. Joe Schmoe. Everywhere else, it's The People of the State of California v. John Doe.

    One example of the status of Commonwealth for these four states was one famous case in the 1920s: Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.

    I know it's nitpicky, but I just felt like pointing that out.

    awkwardone

  • So you're saying that you would have beat up a kid in junior high for swearing at you?

    Actually, I think he's saying that when face to face with him, the typical junior high kid (or whoever) would, in the interest of self-preservation, consider their choice of words more carefully.

    As far as eBay goes, I think they should consider a foul-word filter that automatically locks out the account after some number of automatic warnings. Put a notice of the requirement in the Terms of Service, and move on.

  • Ebay wants a federal judge to ban a user for life for 'using foul language and flouting its own attempts to ban him.'

    Here's one of his postings I found on E-Bay. Obviously, it has been removed by now.

    128MB SDRAM -- Early bird special

    Users have been flocking down to the stores to get their claws on these. Why not just kick back with your feather pillow and get them from me cheep here on e-bay. At this price you're practically robin the bank! Heck, buy four of them and hawk them at your local pawn chop. Chicks really love a guy with a 128MB SDRAM chip. This is one nest egg you do not want to be without!
  • cos rude word filters don't work. Need some ASSistance? or am I harASSing you? And you can really insult someone using perfectly innocent words, or use rude words in a non-insulting manner. Not to mention slang words with several meanings. like in dutch 'binnenvaartschipper' which is usually a riverboatcaptain, but can also mean a male homophile person in a certain context.

    but as usual I have no point to make..

    //rdj
  • No, dipshit, Walt fucking Disney's.
  • Yowza! If you REALLY want to get noticed and have your 15 nanoseconds of fame like Braxton Anderson, hike on over to Ebay and annoy them -- they're biting!
  • by Dreamweaver ( 36364 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @02:57PM (#935422)
    You have to consider the fact that it's not just some guy at eBay who thinks the person is annoying and wants to have them banned..

    eBay, being a company with lots of customers, has to consider the feelings of those customers. While the actual eBay staffers may not have any problem whatsoever with 'profane abusive language', some vocal portion of their customers apparently do. I agree with you that it's stupid to get upset over the simple use of a word, but there are alot of stupid people out there and as a commercial enterprise, eBay has to worry about the idiots as well as the intelligent.
    Dreamweaver
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:57PM (#935429)
    The other side to the issue is that eBay has clearly tried to remove the user with no success. Is the government going to have any more luck?

    Injunctive relief can be very effective, since one violation and wham! you're in jail. No trial, no delay (at least initially). It's being used against youth gang members for just this reason.
  • Actually, I believe the key phrases were "He's disrupting the normal course of conduct (of eBay transactions)" and "Although the company has 'terminated 40 to 45 of his accounts in the last three months alone,' Anderson has circumvented the company's moves by re-registering under other identities". First they kicked him off their property and then he kept coming back in. Since their website is their private property and (as has been frequently shown recently) they are responsible for the content of it, it sounds reasonable that they should be allowed a legal recourse to prevent him from entering it. One last note: Personally, I swear like a sailor and I don't tend to get offended easily by that kind of stuff. However, there are laws which have been held up in court banning swearing in front of women and children! I think it's unconstitutional, but courts (at least in Michigan) don't feel that way. Food for thought. -slackerboy
  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:58PM (#935433)
    I know nothing about the particulars of this case, but maybe the real target is his ISPs. I've known a few people who redefined what it meant to be an "asshole," but their ISPs made a deliberate decision to not get involved. (The fact that "taking no action" is still taking an action never occured to them.) Note well that quick research showed that this was something like their 23rd ISP in two years, so it's not a case where this ISP was just trying to avoid a knee-jerk reaction.

    We all agree that the better ISPs will always ask to see a court order before yanking someone's access. Perhaps this is what it requires - a federal court saying that eBay has the right to evict people for life, and any ISP that offers him sanctuary *will* answer to that court.
  • by BrianH ( 13460 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @06:07PM (#935440)
    I know many people who feel the same way. The line of reasoning goes something like this: "If the guy's a criminal, he's a drag on society. Society as a whole should not have to deal with people contantly trying to destroy their work. If a person lives his life by stealing the hard work of others, then eliminating that life provides a large benefit to society, without any loss. Therefore the police and courts should be able to step in and end the lives of these people".

    It's a little harsh, but there's just enough reason in there to make many people stop and think. Many weeds survive by choking the life out of flowers and beneficial plants, so when we get weeds in our garden we rip them out of the ground and destroy them so that the flowers can thrive. If people decide that they want to be societies weeds, why not do the same thing?

    I don't totally subscribe to this line of thought because of the potential for abuse, but I can somewhat understand the reasoning of people who do. Not all human life is "special".
  • f there is ANY issue to discuss here, it should be that many communities "public spaces" (i.e. shopping malls, business centers, /. ,etc.) are in fact privately owned, and what the ramifications are for free speech and expression in light of that.

    Interesting point.

    Very interesting, when one considers the efforts being made to privatize much of what is public (some have even suggested making streets and highways private tollways, and others have argued that public sidewalks are in fact private property).

    Legislation strengthening the bill of rights is in order - extending them to any place which is made explicitly accessible to the public, such as shopping malls.

    But then, I don't think private business should be excluded from abiding by the constitution either -- it dominates between 1/3 and 1/2 of our lives, yet our freedoms and privacy are nonexistent in the business sector. With current political trends toward replacing big government with big business, I see this only getting worse.

    We may not be talking about Nazi Germany, but the future is looking more and more like a corporate faschist's wet dream: fat, apathetic and apolitical worker/consumer populace included.
  • You apparently haven't heard the case of the town owned by a corporation (a big oil company) where they tried to get a lady to stop handing out religious leaflets. They claimed that since they owned the town that it was "private" and therefor could stop this person's right to peacefully assemble.

    They were shot down by the supreme court because it was deemed that the public gathers there, opening it to laws governing public places. I never claimed that the petitioning was covered by the constitution (State or Federal), but it is protected by law even though it's on private property (because it ends up being a public place).

    Before claiming that this is "untrue", I suggest looking at the petitioning laws in the State of Oregon.
  • It would be no large effort to associate a karma score with any given IP address

    An IP address is no unique identifier. For example, my IP address pretty much reads "somebody on a modem somewhere in Indiana owned by UUNet" because it is pseudorandomized every time I connect to the Internet.


    <O
    ( \
  • Some have taken issue that timothy has implied that /. might benefit from "virtural restraning orders", as it appears eBay is seeking.

    A lot of people make this mistake. Actually, Timothy's stuff is the plain text, the italics are all subob, or whateverhisnick. Timothy seems to be fairly cool about the trolls, from what I gather, where some of the /. admins are simply apathetic, stating that they simply aren't wasting their time on this idiots.
  • You make a mistake. There are two types of "courts" civil and criminal.

    Criminal Courts involve the State (one of the 50, or the United States) vs. an individual. There is a prosecuter and a defendant.

    Civil Courts involve two parties, the plaintiff and the defendant.

    There are two jurisdictions (within the US), state and federal.

    Civil Crimes between two parties within a state: state civil court.

    Criminal crimes against state law: state criminal court.

    Criminal cases including US law: federal court.

    Civil cases involving US law, interstate commerce, etc: federal court.

    I do not THINK that there is a seperate federal criminal and civil system. I believe that the states divide them because of their case load requiring so many judges that it results in an easier management system with seperate civil and criminal courts.

    HOWEVER, the different courts are not different in scope, just management. i.e., cases are assigned based on the court's expertise, however a criminal court judge and a civil judge within the same district have equivalent jurisdiction, they merely see different cases.

    As the federal criminal code is MUCH smaller, I do not believe that there is a seperate federal criminal court. Although there are federal crimes, most overlap with state laws and are left to the states.

    Ebay appears to be asking the US court system to maintain the licensing agreement between two parties engaging in interstate commerce. As a result, federal courts have appropriate jurisdiction.

    Alex
  • by Quincunx42 ( 186316 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:59PM (#935452)
    It seems like this is the question that the courts will have to decide. Is eBay considered a public or private place?

    At first it seems like a no-brainer. However, from my experience with petitioning, I have learned that small differences create large distinctions.

    For instance, if I want to petition in front of a grocery store, I have to ask permission because it is considered to be a private area. On the other hand, I can petition at any mall because they are considered public (since they sell more than one type of item or something like that).

    A local chain (Fred Meyer) which is a combination grocery/hardware/clothing/toy/garden/office/electr onics store found out that they cannot ask petitioners to leave since they fall under the same category as a mall; for selling more than one "category" of goods.

    So... Is eBay a bunch of classified ads? Or a flea market?
  • by gwernol ( 167574 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @02:00PM (#935454)

    Since it's a private company, it should be allowed to ban any user it wants.

    And indeed, that's exactly what eBay did. They did ban him, but he apparently then came back on the system no less than 45 times under different user names. I guess in the end eBay got fed up with this bozo and decided the only sanction he might listen to was a legal one. Some people just don't know when to give up and go home.

  • Crypto is no help because you want to limit the number of identities someone can have, and yet you don't want to put any hurdles in the way of new customers.

    Why not use hash cash [cypherspace.org]? Each user will need to generate a hash cash token to identify themselves, and any given token can be banned. Since it is expensive to generate a new hash cash token, this will thwart such abuses.

  • by Badmovies ( 182275 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @02:13PM (#935458) Homepage
    I run a website and a little bit ago ran into problems with a kid posting idiocy to the Phorum message board (though I was secondary to his main target of annoying another b-movie website). Imagine ten postings that say nothing more than "F**k this, f**k that, bwhahahaha." He was an AOLer so I used AIM to contact him one night. Little brat sat there bragging about being able to annoy people with impunity. It's infuriating to encounter someone who has no respect for others when they think they can get away with it. Being a rather large Marine I'm certain he wouldn't act that way to my face, but over the Internet he feels free to be a bastard.

    Sent complaints to AOL to get his account canceled, but he soon made a mistake by using a school (Jr High) computer to make his postings. After that it was very easy to contact the network admin with the IP address info and suddenly he became a very apologetic little boy with much less free time on his hands.

    Sounds like the subject Ebay abuser conducted himself in much the same way, flouting their attempts to ban him and only trying to be a nuisance. After repeated attempts to handle it on their own by deleting his account and telling him to go away Ebay is laying down the law. They are establishing a case for pressing charges/suing for damages if he ever pulls this again.

    I say more power to them.


    Andrew Borntreger
  • The person is interfering with interstate commerce, making it a federal issue.

    -B
  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @02:13PM (#935462)
    . .in the civil code to help people with problem customers, diffcult people or x wives and husbands. If you own a 7/11 you can expect a certian percent of the population to be disruptive to your store, and if you can prove it to a local judge, you can seek a restraining order in oder to maintain a civil 7/11.
    ___
  • It seems like this is the question that the courts will have to decide. Is eBay considered a public or private place?
    ....
    For instance, if I want to petition in front of a grocery store, I have to ask permission because it is considered to be a private area. On the other hand, I can petition at any mall because they are considered public (since they sell more than one type of item or something like that).
    On the other hand, (were It not probably illegal) I would give 2-1 odds on his being neither in Oregon nor petitioning people. (It sounds to me like petitioners are given special dispensation under Oregon law.).

    Unless this dweeb is willing (and rich enough) to invest enough money into his defense to find some strange loophole, Ebay probably only needs to prove that they've been adversely affected by his actions and that they've made reasonable private attempts to get him to go (and stay) away.

  • That was amazing.

    Be careful where you click that Maus though. You never know who's watching.

    Kevin Fox
  • Are there any TROLLS in the audience tonight?
    Get them up against the wall.
    ('gainst. the. wall)
    And that AC in the spotlight, he don't look right-
    Get him up against the wall.
    ('gainst. the. wall)
    And that one looks like an MCSE,
    And that one looks French,
    Who let all this rifraff cause such a stench?
    There's one talkin' bout drugs,
    and downloading MP3's,
    If I had my way, I'd have all of them BSOD'd!

    if it ain't broke, then fix it 'till it is!
  • I still have no idea what's going on with osm.
    Let me help you out. osm sits at his computer composing stories about Natalie Portman. He puts these up on his website and posts them on /.
    Now you know all there is to know about what's going on with osm.
    --Shoeboy
  • by mudder ( 32780 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @02:05PM (#935492)
    This really isn't a new situation, and if the judge does ban him, it is not setting a precedent. Earlier this year (or maybe it was late last year), the rec.skiing.alpine newsgroup pretty much erupted in an all-out flame war which got to the point of threats of physical violence (there were reports of people visiting other people's houses late at night). The situation got to the point where the police were called, and eventually the courts placed a restraining order on TwoBuddah (who was making the threats). Anyway, the newsgroup calmed down nicely.

    The point of this story (I think there was a slashdot article on it earlier) is that banning a user from a public service has been done before (although in this case it was a Washington state court I believe), and was in fact successful. The person in question definitely deserved banishment, as he was disrupting a public place (just like a drunkard can be forcibly removed from a department store if he is bothering the customers), so I don't see any problem with asking for legal intervention in the banning of a person from EBay, so long as his behavior warrants it (which appears to be the case here).
  • Thankfully e-commerce doesn't have to pay taxes. Maybe eBay should do it themselves, and leave tax-paid-for courts and police to protect the taxpayers.

    It's a pay to play world!
    ==
    "This is the nineties. You don't just go around punching people. You have to say something cool first."

  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:37PM (#935502)
    It sounds like he has been notified that he is unwelcome. He continues to establish accounts, probably in spite of agreeing to a terms of use that says he will obey the decisions.

    It seems like court protection is reasonable. Federal also makes sense as this is interstate commerce. It would appear that his actions MAY be interfering with Ebay's ability to conduct business.

    If I ran a store, and someone kept entering that was asked to leave, I could no doubt call the police and have them removed. This appears to be the equivalent.

    I don't see a regulation of the Internet issue with this. This appears to be the same legal system that protects people in real space, and is a good precedent. The idea that you can actually remove users, even with an easy registration process, is a good one.

    Remember when BBSes (awaiting the BBS and Internet aren't technically related flames) used call-back verification and would only allow one account so that you could be suspended? This is impossible on the Internet (DHCP/NAT, etc) and seems like the most reasonable approach.

    I wish Ebay well.

    Alex
  • by mong ( 64682 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:37PM (#935505) Homepage
    Certianly, you can have a court (restraining) order placed upon a person, making it illegal (contempt of court) for them to enter mentioned properties.

    However, I do wonder how easy this would be to enforce for something such as EBay? Or any other "private affair".

    This guy can obviously -

    - Change user name
    - Change ISP
    - Change practically everything "net" which identifies him.

    Sure, I guess it's actually not such a stupid idea, in theory. But it's practically unenforcable.

    Mong.

    * ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *
  • Before claiming that this is "untrue", I suggest looking at the petitioning laws in the State of Oregon.

    I think you've found one of that wonderful brand of AC who knows everything, and even the law is wrong if it contridicts them. They're cute in the sping, but tire by summer.

    For the record, similar rules apply in Massachusetts for petitioning and such. But I'm not sure if that is the crucial question here. Banning petitioners or even petitioners for one particular cause is different than banning a destructive or disruptive individual. Surely if a person consistently entered a mall to harrass customers, a mall could try for a restraining order.

    -Kahuna Burger

  • by the_other_one ( 178565 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:41PM (#935512) Homepage

    Could we get Jon Katz banned for life?

    Probably, but then he would just start submitting articles as J0n K475

  • I'm surprised that none of you Slashdotters out there could come up with a humorous angle on this. Especially regarding all of our own little homes problems with such problems. So here is my attempt at it:

    Febuary 3rd, 2003 Aided by Senator Orin Hatch, President Ventura has today signed into law a bill first proposed by the editors of Website Slashdot (which recently bought out AOL\TIme Warner\USQwest\GTE-Worldcom), which will permanently put a "lameness" filter over the nations information infrastructure. In addition to wiretapping the nations phonelines to detect any transmissions of the ASCII codes 124-255 in sequences greater then four; there will be a seven day waiting period for people tp purchase any keyboard that can fire more then 20 ampersands a minute. There is also talk that the bill may be extended to including a 1 byte tax on all capital letters.

    In addition to this, First Lady Ventura will join Natalie Portman in a 3 billion dollar public service campaign called "Only you can stop ASCII art"

    In addition, the house passed a 23 Billion dollar bill that will supply military aid to such high semicolon, backslash and astrerik producing nations as Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica and Belgium to help get rid of their punctuation-producing crimelords.

    The only dissenting voice comes from Jon Katz....who {insert Jon Katz joke here}

  • Instead of banning these individuals that receive a certain quota of complaints, perhaps Ebay should put them on an "unpreferred customer" list. These individuals are subject to random delays in net connectivity, including occasional 404's. Their bids are often "lost", their auction items as well.

    The hope is that these specific individuals assume its a general internet problem and eventually decide it's not worth the trouble.

    Obviously if word gets around that this is being done, these people will switch accounts just as they now do to circumvent bannings. But it might be more effective than outright bans until such time as they do realize what the problem is.

    Obviously it won't cure all of the problem and some individuals will persist in obnoxious behavior no matter what you do, but it might help reduce the problem a bit.

    What do you think sirs?

  • From Dave Barry:
    Here is the problem: for many years, the Supreme Court wrestled with the issue of pornography, until finally Associate Justice John Paul Stevens came up with the famous quotation about how he couldn't define pornography, but he knew it when he saw it. So for a while, the court's policy was to have all suspected pornography trucked to Justice Steven's house, where he would look it over. "Nope, this isn't it," he'd say. "Bring some more." This went on until one morning when his housekeeper found him trapped in the recreation room under an enormous mound of rubberized implements and the court had to issue a ruling stating that it didn't know what the hell pornography was except that it was illegal and everybody should stop badgering the court about it because the court was going to take a nap.

    Dave Barry "Pornography"

    --
    Eric is chisled like a Greek Godess

  • I think it is enforceable, due to the fact that he seems to "act" the same way every time. So the next time his signature bastardness pops up they start tracking him down. It might take time and money, but Ebay has plenty of both.

    If they're smart they'll just be the high bidder on one of his auctions or get the cooperation of someone who put an item up that he high bids for. "Okay, so where do we send the check?"


    Andrew Borntreger
  • A credit card is required for sellers and some buyers.

    From the ebay registration FAQ:

    A credit card is required if you are registering using an anonymous email address from Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. Your card will not be charged and will only be used for verification purposes as registration is free on eBay.
  • The Web already provides a way to "ban" or restrict access to users. It's called password protection.
    It seems that eBay has tried this, but they can't always enforce their own license agreements, what with people holding multiple accounts. So eBay has gone to the courts to help them enforce the agreement made between the two interested parties and obviously neglected by one. This is a license agreement issue. You certainly could, I suppose, restrict your website to beautiful babes, but would that serve your interests? I doubt it. Does eBay's action serve the interests of their community? You betcha.

  • This is not the government banning the user from the eBay. This is eBay asking that the government (a federal judge as an agent of the government) to assist them in banning this person from the store.

    This would be the same as a person being banned from a movie theater. That the manager caught the person bring in a flashlight on the screen during the movie. They tell the person to leave.

    Then this person puts on a wig and come again.

    Then the call the police and have the person arrested for tresspassing after the 4th time.

    Given the nature of the web, it's easy to create a new personna and come in with a new disguise.

  • o If ebay can block a single user, can any webmaster place de facto bans on individuals or groups of individuals? Can I create a "for whites" only web page? Can I say this page is for athiests [sic] only, all others are forbidden to load it? Can I appeal to the government to have only beautiful women load my pages by my decree?

    I doubt he's being forbidden from loading eBay's pages. More likely, he's being forbidden from creating an account, and, in the process, falsely claiming that he has never been suspended or terminated from eBay.

    Also, I find it amazing that you consider this a slippery slope to racism. Imagine if, in any physical private business, a customer was kicked out for swearing and disturbing the other customers, and you said, "Oh no! If this business can kick out a single customer, can any business kick out arbitrary groups of people? Can I create a business restricted to serving whites, or atheists, or beautiful women?" People would think you were being a paranoid nut.

    Perhaps you can fill in the gaps between banning profane, disruptive people and banning blacks, that makes this a slippery slope to racism.

  • by Chops ( 168851 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:44PM (#935538)
    First they came for the warez kiddies, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a warez kiddie. They then came for the child pornographers, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a child pornographer... finally they came for the assholes, but by then there was no one left to speak up for us.
  • I thought I'd heard that as a measure against fraud, EBay was now requiring a credit card number in order to register? If that's so, how is this guy getting all of these accounts?
  • "This guy can obviously -
    - Change user name
    - Change ISP
    - Change practically everything "net" which identifies him."

    True. But it probably isn't long before people are issued internet licenses - something that positively IDs them over the net. We have driver's licenses. We have social security numbers. As problems similar to this become more common, it won't be long before they figure out a way bag 'n tag us all. Privacy, shmivacy. Anonymity is a double edged sword and generally people make a big stink when they get cut.

    Can you imagine the driver's license point system being applied to the net?

    threatening email -2 points
    operating computer while intoxicated -5 points
    forwarding lame scams -6 points

    Next stop: Mark of the Beast. (Okay, maybe not - just being pessimistic.)

    Delusion Girl
  • Who the fucking idiot are you? It seems that you childish lardass haven't experienced enough abuse personally so that you could understand how serious problem it is. Go back to the playground until you've learned something.

    (Sorry about the example) But seriously, people often do not care about abusive behaviour before they get to be targets themselves. This is one reason why bullying is so common in schools and also in later age. People think it's fun to offend "stupid" people, but do not understand (or care) how bad it can really feel. I guess it's kind of social game that the bullies play, to raise their social status or something, but it's a very cruel game.

    There are lots of people who just want to get enjoyment from hurting people. I guess there's something really sadistic in human nature.

    Abusive people are a real problem in Internet. Especially in IRC and discussion groups. Administrators can throw out one identity after another, but that's a lot of work and it can become very stressful, and abusers can often cause a lot of emotional damage in groups.

    ISPs should have stricter codes of behaviour, and they should also enforce the codes even without court orders. If schools had to go to court to resolve every case of abuse, schools would soon be lost in anarchy...

    Freedom to insult is not an issue of freedom of speech.

  • by JordoCrouse ( 178999 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @02:38PM (#935550) Homepage Journal
    That very federal / state issue is being fought here in Utah right now.

    Our fine governor, Mr. Mike Levitt is rabid about being able to charge taxes for items purchased out of state. Apparently on our state income tax forms (and others, I guess. I haven't cared enough to find out), we have to tally all the things we bought out of state, and pay taxes on them. That includes web purchases. So that means that everytime I go buy myself something on ThinkGeek, I gotta save the reciept and pay taxes on them at the end of the year. (And you can guess how many times I do that.. :) ) He asked the feds for help, but they say that under the current laws, compelling some guy in Virginia to collect Utah tax just doesn't work. So our honorable gov keeps spewing fire, but apparently, Utahs power ends at Utahs borders (and for all of you out there that are not from Utah, thats probably a good thing).

    So I wonder, how do we sort it all out? For me, I think the feds should handle it. That elimiates the pain and suffering of having 50 different laws and precedents and customs that need to be applied (which means that your average sysadmin would need to know the rules in all 50 states just in case something went down).

    Of course, how the feds should handle it, and the legality of such a rule and all that other jazz is way beyond my post (so don't flame me for it, dammit...). Thats why I am sitting in this cube in Utah, and not Washington DC.

  • Not in most states, if the business is offering walk-in "public accomodation." Just because you don't like someone, you can't ban him from your restaurant, and you certainly can't get the police to remove him.

    When I ran a restaruant the police told me that once I warned someone to leave, if they didn't depart immeadiatly they were then tresspassing. Legally I had to tell them to be gone, but once I did, if they didn't leave I would call the police who would remove them. If the police had trouble I would press charges (I only considered it once, and we had continious trouble with non-customers blocking half out parking lot)

    Restaraunts are on private property. We invite people to spend money in them, and try to be reasonable. When your presence is scaring/bothering other customers you are no longer welcome. Most "clean cut" people get scared when they see 75 high school kids in a parking lot, many smoking (Not legally), most with leather jackets, guys with long hair, nose rings, and so on. You could argue that the high school kid in a suit is just as likely to be a danger, but the custoemrs don't really buy it so it doesn't matter if the group is harmless of not. (This is one example, but it was real life several times while I ran the restaruant)

  • by Guido del Confuso ( 80037 ) on Thursday July 13, 2000 @01:47PM (#935556)
    I would hardly call this a great precedent for anything. We don't need more laws that don't work interfering with private business. And it's a Sisyphean task to try to do anything to stop the onslaught of spammers, phone solicitors, etc. Kind of like trying to plug a raging river with corks. Look at /. -- even as more "lameness filters" are added to the code, the quantity of trolls has gone way up (apparently inversely proportional to the quality). Almost always, the government is not the best route for this kind of thing.

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