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'Suspicious' images lead to suspension

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Ebay has taken action following allegations that its online auction house was being used to trade in child pornography.

One of its users - who has now been suspended from the service - bought and sold hundreds of items, many of which included pictures of naked children and babies.

Although many of the items were old or "antique" photos, the sheer quantity and recurring nature of the "suspicious" images caused alarm among those who stumbled across the images and reported it to eBay.

The incident was also reported to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) but officials there concluded that while some people might find the content distasteful, it was not illegal.

"When IWF hotline staff reviewed the material, they found the images were antique postcards and did not contain any child pornography content deemed illegal by UK law," said an IWF spokeswoman.

Even so, the IWF - which has a hotline for people to report illegal content, especially child pornography - did report the matter to eBay.

A spokesman for eBay told The Register: "Child pornography is not allowed on eBay as stated within the user agreement, which all users are required to agree to before becoming members.

"Ebay has found suspicious items on its US site, which violated both UK and US policies. Immediate action was taken and the listing has been taken down and the seller suspended.

"Ebay was made aware of these listings through comments from concerned community members who informed us of these suspicious items."

However, those who reported the offensive material originally are angry at the way eBay has handled the matter. They claim they were gagged from discussing the issue after eBay pulled two threads on its bulletin boards. Others were shocked that eBay could have allowed such a thing to go unnoticed for so long. ®

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