Links for 30 March 2009 through 04 April 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 30 March 2009 through 04 April 2009, gathered with the assistance of pumpkins and bees:

  • The Australian Sex Party: “The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians.”
  • Measuring the Information Society: The ICT Development Index 2009: Australia is ranked #14 based on figures from 2007. In 2003 it was at #13.
  • Ho Hum, Sweden Passes new anti File Sharing Legislation | Perceptric Forum: Tom Koltai’s analysis of that new Swedish law: It’ll make no difference long term.
  • As Sweden’s Internet anonymity fades, traffic plunges | Ars Technica: A new Swedish law that went into effect 1 April makes it possible for copyright holders to go to court and unmask a user based on an IP address. Sweden’s Internet traffic dropped 40% overnight.
  • Study: online sexual predators not like popular perception | Ars Technica: This survey rejects the idea that the Internet is an especially perilous place for minors, and finds that while the nature of online sex crimes against minors changed little between 2000 and 2006, the profile of the offenders has been shifting — and both differ markedly from the popular conception.
  • What Is Fail Whale?: The complete history of the Twitter’s error-bringing Fail Whale, along with all the art and craft it’s inspired to date.
  • Voda/Hutch merger rattles ACCC | ZDNet Australia: Australia’s competition watchdog tonight issued a strongly worded statement of concern that the proposed merger of mobile carriers Hutchison and Vodafone could lead to increased retail prices on mobile telephony and broadband services.
  • All the news that’s fit to tweet | The Guardian has also announced a new 140-character commenting system. “You’ll never again need to wade through paragraphs of extended argument, looking for the point, or suffer the unbearable tedium of having to read multiple protracted, well-grounded perspectives on the blogs you love.”
  • Share This Lecture! | Mark Pesce’s annual lecture for “Cyberworlds” class, Sydney University, 31 March 2009. About the significance of sharing across three domains: sharing media, sharing knowledge, and how these two inevitably lead to the sharing of power.
  • Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink | The Guardian: One of the better April Fools’ Day pieces. I particularly like the extracts from the Twitterised news archive. 1927: “OMG first successful transatlantic air flight wow, pretty cool! Boring day otherwise *sigh*”
  • Flappers, wine, cocaine and revels (Pt II) | The Vapour Trail: A few hours after five Melbourne girls were arrested for vagrancy in late March 1928, the headline of Melbourne’s Truth broadcast their misdeeds: “White Girls with Negro Lovers. Flappers, Wine, Cocaine and Revels. Raid Discloses Wild Scene of Abandon”.
  • A Blacklist for Websites Backfires in Australia | TIME: Time‘s take on the leak of the Australian Internet censorship blacklist portrays it as a joke and a scandal. There are some factual errors in the story, but this looks like how it’ll end up being perceived internationally.

eBay: Not Australia? Let’s try the US!

eBay couldn’t force its Australian sellers to use its wholly-owned PayPal payment service, but that’s not stopping them from trying the same trick in the US.

I wrote about this previously, though I didn’t mention that eBay gave up in face of such clear opposition — the 700+ submitters and the ACCC, that is, not me! However Lauren Weinstein writes that in the US eBay has announced that PayPal (or credit cards) are to be the required mechanism for all transactions.

Continue reading “eBay: Not Australia? Let’s try the US!”

Crikey: eBay Australia: Who? Us? Anti-competitive?

Crikey logo

[This was me in Crikey yesterday.]

Thank the gods I don’t work for the ACCC! The poor sods have to read 700+ public submissions on eBay Australia’s plan to force sellers to use PayPal — which they own. As Crikey reported, this could breach the “third line forcing” provisions of the Trade Practices Act.

Being a lazy geek rather than a tireless public servant, though, I can skim for juicy tidbits. They reveal a widespread fear of eBay bullying.

Continue reading “Crikey: eBay Australia: Who? Us? Anti-competitive?”

eBay responds to 700+ submissions to ACCC

When the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) decided to investigate eBay Australia’s plan to force its sellers to use PayPal for their “protection”, there were more than 700 public submissions. eBay has responded by dismissing the objections.

I’ve written about this at length previously, both here and in Crikey [1, 2], with plenty of interesting comments from readers. And I’ve just written a piece for Crikey today, to be published around 2pm Sydney time.

Meanwhile, you can read some overview pieces at Auction Bytes and The Sheet. And you can see eBay’s full 15-page response at the ACCC website: it’s the second submission on the page, from “Applicant”.

To make things just that little bit more interesting, yesterday Telstra’s Sensis division announced a free auction site at Trading Post.

[Update 1250pm: The story will now run in Crikey tomorrow (Thursday). Busy news day, apparently.]

eBay Australia making even fewer friends over forced PayPal

eBay Australia isn’t exactly making friends by requiring its sellers to use eBay-owned PayPal to receive their money. No more direct bank deposits, cheques, money orders or your own card merchant account. I’ve written about this twice for Crikey [1, 2], but today there’s more news: the Reserve Bank might weigh in against eBay.

Here’s how I first described the scenario:

Imagine that you’re Alice, proud owner of the new shoe shop at your local Westfield. Bob is buying a pair of brogues. As Bob opens his wallet, suddenly Frank Lowy appears. “There’s some terrible con-men around,” he intones gravely. “Let me handle that.” He grabs Bob’s cash and pockets a fiver. “I’ll give you the rest next Wednesday,” he says, and disappears.

Alice, understandably, is mightily pissed off.

Sellers on eBay have been mightily pissed off overnight too, because the world’s biggest online marketplace has just pulled the same stunt. From 21 May, all eBay sellers must offer PayPal as a payment method. And from 17 June — unless the buyer is physically collecting the item from you or for a few big-ticket categories like real estate and motor vehicles — they must pay you via PayPal.

Now as Alex Willemyns pointed out, Alice could just set up shop elsewhere. Bob could choose another shoe store. However since Westfield and eBay both dominate their respective markets, that could well be a poorer choice.

Continue reading “eBay Australia making even fewer friends over forced PayPal”