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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Exclusive Ebay UK is being used to sell illegal weapons such as vicious stun guns which can temporarily disable victims by delivering massive electric shocks.

Although the online auction service prohibits the sale of firearms on its site - including the sale of "high voltage electric stunning devices" - stun guns are still openly available on eBay UK.

The availability of illegal weapons online is causing such concern that one prominent MP has warned that sites such as eBay "cannot be allowed to be the Internet equivalent of a dodgy car boot sale".

Anyone carrying out a simple search of eBay's UK Web site can easily find a list of illegal weapons for sale. Indeed, following a tip-off from a reader, The Register found ten separate auctions listed on Friday for these illegal weapons.

One of the devices, which delivers a punch of 180,000 Volts, looks just like a mobile phone. Another weapon looks like a pocket-sized torch. Typically, these items cost less than £100.

One advert said: "This is the security plus stun gun it has the reliability and strength of the best. 100,000 volts of power is more than enough to instantly control your attacker on contact.

"Once you've made contact, you decide how much juice you want to give him, meanwhile, he can not react and you have nothing more to fear from the now helpless assailant."

It went on: "A friend of mine tried a weaker version of this stun gun (80,000 V) on his brother who 'insisted' he try it out. The second he made contact with his brother's abdomen the brother seized up and fell to the floor instantly! He lost control of some personal functions as well."

Last year the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) warned of growing concerns over the ease of obtaining illegal weapons via the Internet.

In his submission to a Parliamentary report into gun crime published in November, Deputy Chief Constable Alan Green said: "Another source of concern at present is the advent of the 'e-bay' shopping site on the internet whereby one can acquire just about anything. These are private sales between people and at present un-policed to a large extent. There have been recoveries of prohibited weapons being sent into the country from abroad, which have been bought over the 'e-bay' site. Further work needs to be done in this area."

At the time eBay defended its position, stating that it did not allow ammunition, replica firearms, or even legal air guns to be sold on the site.

"If we were aware of this practice we would work with the police to identify and deal with the users accordingly," the company said in a statement.

But Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on gun crime, was shocked to discover that these stun guns were openly available on eBay.

He told The Register: "The sale of stun guns is illegal in the UK. The fact that people are blatantly advertising these items online shows just how inadequate the policing of weapons sales on the Internet is.

"Although thousands of items are auctioned on eBay every week, I see no reason why they cannot use a filter to screen out most of the illegal ones.

"Internet auction sites cannot be allowed to be the Internet equivalent of a dodgy car boot sale."

A spokeswoman for eBay said the company did remove illegal auctions when notified but was unable to vet every single item listed on the site.

Although eBay was unable to provide a full statement it has now removed a number of listings for stun guns from its Web site. ®

Related Story

MPs take aim at eBay in gun smuggling report

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