Congress to Make Ebay a Rat
Jason Lee Miller
Edward Feulner of the Cato Institute has said that Bills in Congress would turn Ebay and any website that conducts e-commerce into snitches for the government. The bills would force websites to conduct investigations into their customers that come under suspicion.
Jason Lee Miller, WebPro News, has the scoop.
None of the bills, two in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate, is expected to come to a vote before the Congressional recess—they’ve got bigger fish to fry in Bailout Brand oil at the moment—but the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on the subject recently.
The purpose of the legislation is to target organized retail crime, or bands of shoplifters and hustlers hocking ill-gotten goods online, where the National Retail Federation, which has come out aggressively in favor of the legislation, says thieves can sell goods at 70 percent value. Street corners typically only bring 30 percent of the retail value.
The problem was highlighted recently when a New York vendor was busted selling Victoria Secret brassieres on eBay for $25 a pop. They typically sold for between $40 and $80. If you’re wondering why Homeland Security is being dragged in to this, it’s likely because of alleged past connections between organized retail crime syndicates traced to Hezbollah and Hamas.
Naturally, the Internet is to blame.
Though, NetChoice’s Steve DelBianco colorfully compared this logic to blaming the back seats of cars for teenage sex, the NRF’s vice president for loss prevention, Joseph LaRocca, has elevated the problem to the level of addiction to Class A narcotics. At the aforementioned hearing, LaRocca said:
"The Internet seems to be contributing to the creation of a brand new type of retail thief – people who have never stolen before but are lured in by the convenience and anonymity of the Internet. Thieves often tell the same disturbing story: they begin legitimately selling product on eBay and then become hooked by its addictive qualities, the anonymity it provides and the ease with which they gain exposure to millions of customers. When they run out of legitimate merchandise, they begin to steal intermittently, many times for the first time in their life, so they can continue selling online. The thefts then begin to spiral out of control and before they know it they quit their jobs, are recruiting accomplices and are crossing states lines to steal, all so they can support and perpetuate their online selling habit."Soon you’re likely to see them on A&E’s “Intervention.” Though evidence of the above scenario is lacking, it sounds like Congress is taking this just as seriously as the NRF.
Individually, the bills are: H.R. 6713, the E-Fencing Enforcement Act of 2008, sponsored by subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va.; H.R. 6491, the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008, sponsored by Representative Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind.; and S. 3434, the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
Congressman Scott’s E-Fencing Enforcement Act mandates that online stores and resellers disclose contact information for high-volume sellers—with sales of $12,000 or more per year or sales of $5,000 or more in any single offering—“to any inquirer with standing under this section.” An “inquirer with standing” is defined as anybody who sends a copy of a signed report made to or received from law enforcement in the past year involving goods matching the description of those offered online after a theft.
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The Internet--and Alaska--represent the last frontiers in America. These bills, if passed, would leave Alaska, where the federal government already owns over 60% of Alaska.
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