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eBay UK pimps users' privacy for targeted ads

When opt out means locked out

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Updated: eBay users in the UK will start seeing adverts targeting them based on the kind of items they view and bid for while browsing the online tat-house.

And if they don't want their info being used to target ads, their only option seems to be to leave the online marketplace altogether, according to an email announcing the changes.

The Phorm-style service is dubbed AdChoice in the US, where it is provided by Tacoda, which also works with various other sites including Ebookers, AP.com, CNN, HowStuffWorks.com and WallStreetJournal.com.

AdChoice is launching in the UK this month, though it is not yet clear whether Tacoda will be the supplier here.

From 13 July, new users, will be served "relevant" ads. The service is opt-out - if you don't like it you must change your eBay account preferences.

Existing eBay users should already have received an email warning them of the changes, which will come in from from 13 August.

The change comes in the last paragraph of a lengthy marketing email from eBay.

Under the heading "*Customising Your eBay Experience*" the email said: "You'll notice a new preference now available in My eBay -: named AdChoice -: that lets you tell us whether you want us to use the information we have about you to customize the ads you see. You'll be able to sign in and change your advertising preferences in My eBay at any time. In some cases, we may also use information from other companies to select the right audiences for our promotions."

Despite this promise that the service is opt-out the marketing email concludes: "We hope you'll agree that these changes will make the eBay sites and services work better for you. If you accept the new User Agreement and Privacy Policy, you don't need to take any action. If you do not wish to accept the new User Agreement or Privacy Policy, please refer to our Help pages for instructions on how to close your account."

So it's more like an "opt-in or bugger-off" policy?

We're still waiting to hear back from eBay UK* as to whether this means users will be forced to accept targeted advertising or give up using the online junk bazaar altogether.

But we're betting eBay is starting yet another row with their users over this issue - first negative feedback, then PayPal and now this.

Updated:

eBay sent us the following statement and made clear that if you opt out of AdChoice your eBay account will not change: "AdChoice provides a more personalised and relevant shopping experience for our users, based on previous searches and items bought. Participation in this programme is entirely optional and does not involve disclosure of personal information to any third parties.

More generally, eBay views the protection of our users' privacy as an extremely important principle and we do not disclose personal information to third parties for marketing purposes without a user’s explicit consent.”®

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