“The Church of Scientology can delete auctions from eBay with no supervision under the VeRO program, and has used this to delete all resale of the e-meters Scientologists use. This is to stop members from buying used units from ex-members instead of buying from the official (and very expensive) source. Given Scientology’s record of fraud and abuse, should eBay give them this level of trust? Will this set a precedent for other companies that want to stop the aftermarket resale of their products?”
By the time Bill (not his real name) left the Church of Scientology a few years ago, he had amassed quite a collection of Scientology material—mostly books, tapes, e-meters. But ex-members of Scientology (especially staff members) find themselves in a difficult spot in this regard when they leave Scientology: their books, tapes, and e-meters are only valued by Scientologists, who, quite inconveniently, are strongly discouraged (read: disallowed) from communicating with ex-members—as any ex-Scientologist will tell you.
Not surprisingly, he turned to eBay, where a Scientologist buyer can remain blissfully unaware that his seller is a declared suppressive person. But every time he attempts to sell his e-meter on eBay, the listing is removed within hours by the Church of Scientology, which claims that the listing violates their intellectual property rights. See screenshots of the auctions while they were up here [update; personal info redacted] and here, and respective “Invalid Item” eBay pages here and here. And it’s not just Bill—I’ve watched numerous e-meter listings from other sellers removed before they even receive a bid.
If you’re uninitiated to eBay, you’d probably think that for each of these removals, the Church of Scientology informs eBay of the violation of its rights, eBay considers the merits of their argument, and then only then does eBay yank the listing. But that’s not what happens at all. Instead, eBay effectively deputizes Scientology, which logs into eBay and removes the listings itself…
This is not a new development—it’s been going on for nearly 8 years, as this Slashdot story shows. But it’s high time eBay did something about it.