Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Mar 23 2016 12:01:36

Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy sellers are looking for answers about how the company is sharing their information with shoppers and have been getting few clear answers. This thread kicked it off on Monday when a seller noticed a new field called Seller Details in the new Shop format that pulled incorrect information (her personal information instead of her business information) and appeared to make that available publicly.

What was most concerning to many sellers was that the information included home addresses.

There were lots of questions: What was this new field, where was it pulling information from, what about sellers who didn't want their information made public? Did this have to do with the European Union directives and what about sellers who don't sell to Europe? And why weren't they able to permanently delete or change the information in Seller Details?

Questions and concerns grew, and nearly 24 hours later, someone from Etsy's legal team showed up in the thread and tried to offer a clarification. But despite ending with this reassurance, "Etsy will not make the Seller Details available to buyers unless the seller saves the information submitted in the Seller Details field," seller questions and concerns remained.

We reached out to Etsy yesterday afternoon. We received a response when we reached out again yesterday evening: see today's article in EcommerceBytes. As we noted, Etsy provides a guide for those selling to Europe and you should understand and follow EU regulations. But likewise, Etsy should make it clear to sellers what information they are making available publicly and how they can go about verifying what information is being displayed to users.

It's a big deal to have your home address published online, but Etsy is doing little to explain and reassure sellers about those concerns. I searched Etsy's help pages for information about the Seller Details field and found nothing. 

One seller on the thread said she must be missing something. "For quite some time EU regulations have been in place where your name and address are shown to EU buyers. So what is truly the issue here. Is it just that many did not know of this regulation? or what?"

Another seller responded, "It is not being shown to "just your buyers" It is being shown to anyone who clicks on your seller info. I am not a buyer, and I can see your address. You might be okay with that, but a lot of people are not. That info is also being auto-filled from "somewhere" which many of the addresses being shown are wrong in many ways. Also, many people are finding it difficult to delete or change"

A reader explained how you might check to see if your address and phone number are being made public. Go to the bottom of any Etsy page and to the left of "Help" it shows your Country, Language, and Currency (United States, English, $USD in my case). Click on Country and change it to United Kingdom.

Then, go into a seller's Shop and click on Policies - if you are logged in as "United States," you won't see a field called "Seller Information" with the person's name and address, but if you are logged in as "United Kingdom," you'll see Shop owner's addresses and sometimes phone number - but not for every single user. 

The reader who wrote to us said it was happening even in cases where Shops don't ship to the EU. "I removed EU countries from my shipping profiles and my info was/is still there. Etsy is saying it will only be shown to EU buyer, but that isn't true. By doing the above, anyone can see that info. And they are pulling from our credit card information which is completely unacceptable. Many of us use our business names and a business address, not our personal names and home addresses."

We'd like Etsy sellers to help us by asking their questions here. Are you clear about the EU directives, and are you clear about how to toggle your settings so your address remains private if you wish?

UPDATE 3/23/16 2:08 pm ET: Etsy has updated the thread on its forums to provide much greater clarity. But as we point out in the update we added to today's Newsflash article, make sure you understand what Etsy means when they say, "Information entered here will only be shown to buyers in the EU."

UPDATE 3/23/16 @ 10:02 pm ET: Etsy has backed down and will no longer auto-fill sellers' addresses in the Seller Details field, see Thursday's Newsflash article available now.




Comments (24) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Wed Mar 23 12:37:05 2016

my thought on this is it is a lot more serious than it appears and as always what ever they (Etsy) tells you.. you can count on it not being the facts.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: sally sad This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 23 13:41:13 2016

I stopped my international sales months ago. Today, my personal address information was there for anyone to see. Other sellers have found out that even non-Etsy viewers can see this. I removed my information, but I will need to check every day to make sure it has not repopulated.

Thanks Etsy for once again not letting us know that you have made private information public.
 

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 23 15:05:08 2016

The return factor turns me off. One year for mail order no questions asked to all EU members. That is probably why they want your address to be available to anyone who wants to return an item for a refund. No protection for American sellers. I have no idea if Ebay or Paypal will honor the request for money back months later, but I imagine Amazon will.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Wed Mar 23 16:44:07 2016

This really is insane that they would allow this on their site. I would think criminal is some respects? not sure but certainly opens them up to liability in stalking cases, theft, robbery, burglary, rape or assault  or similar situations.. this could result in serious harm or even death in situations. It is not a real stretch to see the seriousness of this. Zero information should have been given out without the seller's permission in Writing (electronically signed) the sellers should have been warned and given the option to at least close their accounts if they did not agree.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Springtime This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 23 16:51:59 2016

This is sheer insanity.  Etsy makes devastating mistakes (or maybe intended actions) and will not admit the truth.  There is no transparency and no honesty.  I am completely disgusted with the lack of honesty, or even sincere caring about the sellers or buyers.  Is Etsy just a lab for adolescents to play with technology and get paid for it?  Oh well, "just fake it."  Unconscionable.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Writings on the Wall This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 23 16:56:36 2016

A mistake, a bug, or crazy like a fox? There are those who do not believe the privacy issue was a bug or a mistake, as personal info is gleaned from  internet sites and sold all the time.
Interestingly, Etsy takes a "hands-off" approach to the issues of resellers and intellectual property infringement, but "overeaches" in other areas, such as the display of personal info. In the instance of intellectual property issues,  Etsy is just a "seller's platform," and it is up to the owner of intellectual property and trademarks to file a complaint. How can they justify promoting someone who sells coffee mugs with an alteration of the Starbucks logo, as one of our "most favorite items," and giving them a boost in search--sending this around as a promotion to all on their home page? Yes, it IS a zero-sum game--if someone gets a boost in search, or gets promoted by Etsy in some way, someone else ends up lower down in search.
The laughing stock of the tech world.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Wed Mar 23 17:12:59 2016

these addresses were taken from the CC files. I am fairly sure the CC Companies like Visa and Mastercard am express all require all parties to take extreme care in the security of personal information on the customers account in question. I do believe this is a valid reason to refuse the use of their services. I would suggest some contact Visa and complain that their CC info was posted in a public manner for all to see bu=y Etsy.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Wed Mar 23 18:55:55 2016

Looks like Etsy decided to pull their little Screw Up from the coding of the new areas. :-) Never once admitting they did anything wrong and never once admitting they put the seller's lives at risk.

I am thinking that their insurance company got wind of this or saw the various articles on the internet and Twitter or maybe Visa gave them a little call or Mastercard? or one of the Board of Directors? Yes time to FIRE the CEO.

the fastest yet i have seen Etsy move when concerned with possible criminal and civil charges.

never admitted a thing and as before totally lied to the sellers about what they did. read the thread and the BS Etsy reply:

https://www.etsy.com/teams/7720/bugs/discuss/17557051/pa
ge/1

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Wed Mar 23 19:11:08 2016

https://www.etsy.com/teams/7720/bugs/discuss/17557051/page/1

pr
oper
link sorry page 16 is the best :-)

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Redlion This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 23 22:48:27 2016

I think people may be forgetting the Etsy seller whose jewelry shop was cleaned out lately.  It is unknown how they got her address, but I see the potential for some real problems.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Redlion This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 23 22:54:32 2016


Etsy's stance that we are responsible to follow the import laws in regards to the EU consumer directive may have missed the mark since the language in the directive is also ambiguous.  I have read the directive many times and from many sources and it continually refers to EU buyers and EU sellers and does not SAY the import laws are applicable to non-EU traders, so it is unclear if this even applies.  Part of the eBay user agreement is also that sellers are responsible to know and follow the import laws of other countries and even eBay has not decided to adopt this stance on the directive.

Many of us are also upset that Etsy is taking it upon themselves to send EU buyers a link to the directive and none of us would have even known about it we hadn't started investigating the issue.  Etsy made these changes in the dead of night without so much as an announcement of the change. The way all of the changes were made is probably what is the most upsetting to many of us.  it has been pointed out in many of the threads, this is bound to cause conflict between buyers and sellers and can't really be good for the Etsy site as a whole.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

This user has validated their user name. by: IDKwhoIare

Thu Mar 24 00:32:02 2016

Ina, for my part I am not concerned about the EU directives as I have no intention of selling overseas.  They seem pretty clear to me and I am not interested in playing the EU reindeer games IF I could get past the shipping costs there & back again roadblock in the first place.

I am as concerned as anyone else that Etsy thought it was okay to garner data from our billing info to use in ANY way, much less making it public.  How is it possible for them to not understand their own country's laws on disseminating private CC information beyond where they have described in those annual privacy notices?  Or do they now think they are Irish and under their laws?  I assume that there is some agreement between a merchant & the CC to adhere to the CC company's requirements, no matter the country of origin of the merchant.  Guess that is something I need to ask my CC company.  The BS announcement from Dilani Kahawala was and was not amusing and certainly not much of a CYA on their part.  Don't they have lawyers?  

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Thu Mar 24 08:30:18 2016

the link to report Etsy:

https://usa.visa.com/Forms/merchant-violation-complaint-f
orm.html

this
situation appears to still not be fixed

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Thu Mar 24 18:32:47 2016

Selling online can get you killed.
Etsy is a moron, on My Dime.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Redlion This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 24 21:46:24 2016

To IDNwhoIare
Yes, they have lawyers.  They just aren't very good ones.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Biglouis This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 25 03:53:35 2016

Many EU sellers have pointed out that they HAVE to make their private address publicly available, if thats where they are located. They think US sellers are being paranoid about this. I dont agree. Some real concerns about privacy and security exist. I am an EU seller and was kindly redirected to a ''virtual office'' service by another member some time ago. It redirects my mail and provides me with a credible looking commercial street address via which I can be contacted and where buyers can send returns. I have done this ever since I was stalked and had to change my residence. Not all EU based sellers blindly follow their increasingly whacky and intrusive directives like a pack of sheep.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 25 04:26:57 2016

The simplest solution is to NOT SELL OVERSEAS.

IF you compare, Paypal rules, Post office prices, terms of outside insurance companies, NONE of these jive out to offer sufficient protections for any given seller.

"WE" are not big enough to absorb the risks involved with exporting.

Let America step up to the plate and offer "US" the same deals as is offered overseas business people by "their" native countries.

SIMPLE.

You can also consider getting PO Boxes. IF Etsy pulled an address from my credit card info, guess what address will show?

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Tracey This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 25 06:37:58 2016

I still have concerns about whether or not US sellers even have to abide by EU rules.  Everything I have read refers to sellers IN the EU not sellers TO the EU having to abide by these laws. Then on the other hand I think but could an organization as large as Etsy really make such a huge mistake.  But wait.....

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 25 09:31:24 2016

This is the final straw for many of us. At the very least, I agree with the always brilliant WT Wheels who said the answer is not to sell out of the US. For the few pitiful sales I get, it's just worth the hassle. I am so sick and tired of the Etsy BS and glad to be on the path to get away, far away.

Perminate Link for Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate   Etsy Seller Privacy Concerns Escalate

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Fri Mar 25 12:38:07 2016

Agree 100% with WTW here.  I don't do Etsy but the same goes for every venue that I frequent.  Overseas rates are extortionate and there is no recourse against fraudsters.

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