EBay Revises User Agreement and Privacy Policy

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EBay Inc. sent an e-mail to users yesterday saying it has revised its privacy policy and user agreement, which describes the rights and responsibilities of bidders and sellers on the auction site.

The changes reflect clarifications and updates on information sharing as the San Jose, CA, online company seeks to expand its services and attract more users.

"These changes are based upon suggestions from our users and will accommodate future site improvements," eBay said in its e-mail.

The revisions to the user agreement pertain to eBay's recently acquired online billing payment service PayPal. It also offers a number of new dispute resolution mechanisms that are cheap and simple should users have disagreements with eBay.

On a granular level, the changes relate to the agreement's introduction. Users have to note that if they reside outside of the United States, the user agreement is with eBay International AG.

Second, the access and interference sections' sentence structure was reformatted for an easier read. But the restrictions remained the same.

Similarly, eBay clarified in its breach section the types of actions it would take if users violate the terms and conditions of the site. This will ensure better safety and security, the company said.

The resolution of dispute was the largest material change eBay made in a while to the agreement.

"We took a hard look at the various ways to resolve disputes and decided that we wanted to provide our users with as many options as possible," eBay said. "… in addition to arbitration, we now offer you the ability to mediate as well as appear in court should you choose."

The revised privacy policy, on the other hand, clarifies the way eBay shares information with advertisers, external and internal service providers for operations, other corporate entities, lawyers and the user base.

EBay has reorganized its "Our use of your information" section without any major changes. But it did further clarify how it handles user information through a number of examples.

The "Our disclosure of your information" section was tweaked to make it clear how the information may be disclosed. A few of the subsections were renamed, with latest examples.

There was no change for advertisers. The eBay community section saw a modification in the user ID area. E-mail and contact information sections are based on eBay's new e-mail and contact information policies.

Listing agents and other third parties were told that their personal information will not be given without their explicit consent. But eBay has renamed the operations section for search technology companies and other internal service providers to reflect the types of services these third parties provide for the auction site. New examples were also added.

Finally, eBay made changes to its legal requests section. The modifications will explain how the company has restricted the ways it will disclose the user's information to law enforcement authorities.

This is not a new legal policy, the company pointed out. But now eBay clearly states it requires a subpoena for more detailed information beyond the user's public transaction history and contact information. Such disclosures also will be made only after verification of the law enforcement official.

The changes take effect immediately for users who registered after April 8. Users who registered before then have until May 25 before changes become effective. Users not in favor can cancel their eBay registration by e-mailing decline@ebay.com. Items on sale can continue till their scheduled conclusion, however.

"In general, our main privacy position has not changed, we will not disclose your information to a third party for their marketing purposes without your explicit consent," eBay said.


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