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Thu Jan 17 2013 21:23:46

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

By: Brian Cohen

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What if you could buy something on eBay, but not reveal your address to the seller? And as a seller, how would you feel about sending a package to a hidden address?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) just published eBay patent application 20130018759, "Third Party Token System for Anonymous Shipping."

The Background of the patent ponders a "scenario (where) a recipient may not wish to share his or her mailing address with the sender," and the Detailed Description further explains the solution:

"In an online marketplace, a buyer or recipient may be reluctant to provide personal information such as his mailing address to a seller...
 
A token associated with the mailing address of the buyer may be provided to the seller. The seller may then use token to ship an item to the buyer with a shipping service provider who has privileged access the actual mailing address information of the buyer...

..(T)he universal addressing server allows for a user to use their email address instead of their physical address."

Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that many online services require the physical address of a user in order to perform a transaction. This description illustrates how a financial institution (e.g., such as Paypal) can be used as a service to verify the address of any user registered with the financial institution. Thus, a financial institution can act as an online gateway for third party systems to check and verify any user identity...


Although, curiously, if we go back to the Background of the patent, it describes a conundrum that eBay users do not have:

"Every time a sender mails a package to a recipient, the sender must carefully write the physical address of the sender and the recipient. The physical address includes zip code and city. The sender needs to be careful not to make any mistakes so as to avoid any shipping delays."


Address information has been pre-filled by eBay for a while now. See eBay announcement "eBay Shipping Labels For Faster And Smarter Shipping."

eBay's Adult Only (NSFW) and eBay Bullion Center categories will no doubt be beneficiaries of anonymized shipping transactions.

eBay is no stranger to anonymity. Paypal's genius lies in that buyers do not give sellers their credit/banking/debit card details directly. So eBay's "Third Party Token System for Anonymous Shipping" is a natural extension of Paypal's technology.

Last June, USPTO published Amazon patent application 20120143709 "Protection of Privacy in Connection with Shipment of Products" which is described in the patent Abstract:

"Disclosed are various embodiments for enhancing protection of privacy of purchaser contact details in connection with shipment of parcels. A shipping label can be generated that includes at least one contact detail that hides an actual contact detail associated with a purchaser. A carrier tasked to ship and/or deliver the product to an address designated by the purchaser can use the at least one contact detail to contact the purchaser. The attempts to contact the purchaser can be logged, and the contact details expired when no longer needed."

What do you think of anonymized shipping transactions? Let's know below!

About the Author
Brian Cohen has been an active member of the eBay community since May 1998. He currently trades under the member name Bidofthis.com. His first AuctionBytes article was published in May 2002. Brian can be contacted through his website at BidofThis.com where he always has a "little Bid of This and little Bid of That."

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Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: BackInBlack This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 21 00:08:39 2013

@Philip Cohen

I can partially answer your question(s) above.  First of all, one *does* need to fear postal workers; they are just as human and often just as crooked as anyone else, and ours seem to be a bit crazy as well (ever hear the term 'going postal?')  Some sell information about people; some steal items from the mail, etc.  In Dallas, I had friends who knew people who worked at the sort center, and they knew just what to look for, like greeting cards with cash or gift cards in them, or credit card mailings with cards inside.

As far as "How does anyone know what's in the box?"  Well, they don't, but if it's sent "Registered Mail" you can bet it's pretty darn valuable, whatever it is.

We have a class of service in the U.S. called "Registered" (the most secure offered by USPS, signed for and put in a vault at each stop along the way), as is customary for bullion, diamonds, negotiable bonds, and other high-end items.

I'd think one involved in those trades (gold/jewels) would already have their own security measures in place, like a PO Box or a secure business location, and they often also have a weapons permit.  

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidofthis.com

Mon Jan 21 12:55:40 2013

@Eyedeal good point in that the email address used in this system is not likely's one's personal email address. It is most likely anonymized  similar to that used in cragslist.

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 21 14:51:03 2013

As I have mentioned before, I often sell Cisco VPN routers and firewalls.

They have a notice on the top quite often that mentions they have strong encryption and are illegal to export. It's also on the software in the machine and it always scrolls by at bootup.

I put a notice right in the ebay listing that if you do not actually live in the US you may not buy this from us.  I won't ship to your cousin in the US or to a freight forwarder.  I just don't want the government involved at all.  Yeah, I realize how fruitless all that is.

Now ebay is thinking of hiding the actual location of the buyer and their shipping service is going to act as a freight forwarder.  Did you read the terms of service for that freight forwarding by ebay?  It's like ''see no evil, hear no evil''.

What happens when the FBI shows up and your illegal to export items was actually sent to North Korea?  ''I didn't know?''  

I don't know how well that is going to work out.  I doubt the FBI and State Department are going to care, and even if they ultimately determine the seller actually didn't know where the shipment was going to it might take them months or years to come to that conclusion and you will be caught up until then.  You will be either sitting in a cell or you will be paying attorneys.

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Jan 21 14:58:53 2013

But ebay is only a venue. lol

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Jan 21 16:06:57 2013

eBay: "see no evil, hear no evil"

—unless it affects them ...

So, what's new?

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Jan 21 20:34:39 2013

Ming says "Ebafia fulfillment centers sitting virtually empty."

LOL............I CAN HEAR JD SAYING "WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE AMAZON"

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Jan 21 23:37:13 2013

And, I have mentioned it before but's worth mentioning again and again and again, I have recently had two items, bought on eBay, fulfilled by Amazon!

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 22 12:08:06 2013

This is not about security for the buyer. It's about eBay pushing their fulfillment warehouses. They will make it sound like sellers are being "helped" by taking over the shipping process. Say goodbye to good search standing if you do not comply with the service.

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 22 13:51:39 2013

Now they can get your item for free and you don't even know where they live LOL.....perfect!

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Tue Jan 22 17:20:44 2013

Well, if you have ever watched someone die, as I have, you may recognise that the noise now coming out of eBay is the laboured breathing of a dying entity ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

Perminate Link for eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 24 12:20:06 2013

I personally don't think ebay gives a rats a** if a seller knows a buyer's address or vice-versa. This is a move to force all small gto mid-level sellers in to using ebay shipping allowing the site to reap all benefit equalling higher Wall Street numbers, I assure you it won't apply to the Diamonds.

There are multiple repercussions too lengthy to detail that would result from such a move.

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