EBay bans World Trade Center items

Items relating to Tuesday's devastation have been removed from the eBay auction site until 1 October

Online auctioneer eBay has banned the auction of any items relating to the World Trade Center or the Pentagon on its site.

The company, responding to outrage across its notice boards on Wednesday afternoon, removed several hundred listings from its site that associated themselves with the destroyed buildings. AT 6pm PDT, eBay.com posted a statement on the community section of its site, which asked all customers to refrain from mentioning the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or the events of 11 September in their listings.

"In accordance with our Offensive Items Policy, all items directly related to this event (crime scene material, propaganda, etc.) will be removed from eBay...All items with World Trade Center or Pentagon in the title will be removed, regardless of whether or not they are designated as a charity," read the statement.

The ban will last until 1 October, in order to prevent individuals from making a profit out of the tragedy. The statement encourages users instead to donate the proceeds of their sales to a relevant charity.

EBay's decision is a matter of moral judgement. In the UK there is no law against the auctioning of items on the Internet that may cause offence. "Trading Standards only offers advice alongside legal issues -- we don't force opinions on people," said a Trading Standards officer. "It's down to the individual to make a decision like this -- we would refuse to advise a retailer on an question like this."

This is not the first time that eBay has faced a dilemma of this kind. Earlier this year, it decided to change its policy on the auction of Nazi memorabilia on its site. Both eBay and Yahoo! decided to adjust their policies to prohibit the listing of any items that have associations with oppressive or terrorist groups.

See the E-commerce News Section for the latest headlines.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet news forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read other letters.