Today I read the March 25-31st Economist article on whistleblowers. The common tactic of organizations when facing negative information often isn’t changing but rather a strategy which either discredits the person giving the information or hides the problem. This reminded me of my six month battle with ebay.co.uk regarding the sale of child pornography.
I used to sell hard to find, legal and licensed gay and lesbian DVD’s on eBay. Over time, I began to notice certain other sellers DVD’s selling on ebay.co.uk, always on a 1 or 3 day auction, selling for enormous prices ($150 was not uncommon). I had never heard of these films. When I researched these titles I found they were films which were illegal in the UK due to the exploitive nature of using very young children filmed naked extensively in sexual or arousing situations; or films of children having sex as young as 11. The sellers were almost always “private” sellers with “private” listing so you couldn’t see what the seller had previously sold or who it went to. Literally “Here today, gone tomorrow” in terms of evidence. I reported this to eBay. The items were not pulled.
As a powerseller, I had a direct phone line and called, speaking to a supervisor there. I was told that eBay were not sure whether the films broke policy, or were even illegal. This is eBay's policy: Any images of nude children, including any vintage images. Recognizing that images of nude children often raise legal concerns, eBay has made a policy decision that it will not permit the listing of any item that depicts nude minors (under 18 years of age). Listings of such material, even if described as nude "teens", "children", "youngsters" or "nudist" are not permitted.
This was odd since I gave them links which talked about the “extensive nudity” of children 13 and under in these films (“like all of Kostenyuk’s Foreign Documentaries – “ Cool Dudes ” contains footage shot in the uninhibited European style of full frontal nudity during shower and locker scenes.”).
After two days of waiting I called the police, reported suspected child pornography according to the 1994 amendments ("it is an offence for a person (a) to take, or permit to be taken or to make, any indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child; (b) to distribute or show such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs"), gave them the item numbers and the eBay “powerseller” phone number. The items were pulled within an hour.
On eBay, there is no phone line for law enforcement; they should email regarding illegal activities and replies will be sent. I was told in Jan. 2006 by a Cardiff police officer that getting reply or evidence from eBay can take up to a year.
Checking back regarding the pulled items I was told by an eBay representative that they couldn’t tell me more due to privacy but that they report all suspected illegal activity to the police including DVD piracy (I later talked to an Police Officer at the London Met who told me that in their knowledge ebay.co.uk had NEVER contacted them regarding ANY suspected illegal activity)
Over the next several months I repeatedly asked, and begged ebay.co.uk representatives to take simple precautions to stop the repeated selling of DVD’s which were not only illegal in the UK, clear examples of child pornography but also went against their own policies. Simply adding the distributor (such as Baikal or Pojkart) and titles to their monitoring bots would make a huge difference.
I emailed eBay several internet links showing distributor websites and boy-lover forums which had direct links to ebay.co.uk as the place to obtain out-of-print films of young naked boys. I assume that lawyers talked because the links disappeared, yet the films, continued to sell regularly on ebay.co.uk.
Meanwhile, in the US, two different mothers stumbled onto Baikal films on Amazon.com. One mother was looking for a gymnastic video for her 7 year old and was somewhat disturbed by a film “Gym Boys” which was positively reviewed for those who “love boys” and the clear descriptions of how many minutes of nudity and shower scenes there were. Starting a blogging campaign she managed to get Amazon.com to...pull the reviews. (Yes the solution of a film about gym boys that is too disturbing to show to boys interested in gymnastics is to stop listing how much nudity and radiant boy shots there are). Continuing her campaign she convinced Amazon to stop selling Baikal films, in the US (where they are currently legal), and to petition to get amendments to the child pornography laws to close this loophole.
Under negative pressure Baikal closed their “naturalist boy” review site Moviebizz. In the last month, they also changed their old review system in which they gave the film a number of “thumbs up” depending on how much nudity and explicit sexual content in contained (see it here) to a “critics review” system (see here) and changed the “HOT” rating on a film from how sexual it was to “how well it sells” (hmmmm…..)
Their legal policy page has had a major upgrade from the original which used to read that they couldn’t answer whether the film was legal as so many countries had so many different laws. Also they wouldn’t answer emails of “Is this legal” because if “you are that paranoid perhaps you have other issues that should be dealt with and should pass on this website.” Now their legal page emphasizes that they are not pornography by the laws of US and CANADA and then goes on to generally say how awful pornography is and imply that their films are likely not illegal in many other countries. Yet, even on BoyLoverNet, these films are well known to both fall under the legal classification of “Child Pornography” in the UK yet be available on ebay.co.uk.
While Baikal and other distributors have cleaned up the open sexual exuberance in the naked bodies of 10-14 year olds they continue, against ebay.co.uk policy and UK law to be sold on ebay.co.uk; netting a profit of fees for ebay.co.uk, a profit for the seller and giving the buyer a satisfying evening watching naked boys cavorting in showers, wrestling and sweating. Perhaps the reason they continue to be sold is that while ebay.co.uk has spent millions of dollars in advertising last year, the number of individuals employed by ebay.co.uk to monitor ebay.co.uk for illegal goods including child pornography is exactly the same as the year before: Zero.
Here are several films, which are illegal to sell or buy in Britain but are currently (and unless ebay changes, will always be) available on ebay.co.uk: (click on the titles to see the sale on ebay, found after searching a few minutes)
Trading Punches & High Spirited Boys by Baikal and Pojkart: “42 minutes of absolutely fabulous colorized action that captures a group of boys ranging in ages from early pre-teens to young teens and on through a few older teens… the boys stop “ Trading Punches ” long enough to head for the local spa and sauna where they all spend a wonderful afternoon relaxing, showering for the spa pool and sauna room and having a ball being boys and not boxers. Like other Baikal and Naturist Films, Director Igor Kostenyuk captures the boys in their full natural glory with the same unabashed casualness that the Europeans are noted for in their unashamed respect for the disrobed human body”
High Spirited Boys - water fight nudist fun with children including Oskar, who has been appearing naked in Pojkart films since the age of 8
Genesis Children: “The Genesis Children - the film - is an extended excuse to see pubescent and prepubescent boys naked. That's it. What story there is - is there only for the auspice of saying that there is a story. Since it is illegal to promote, film, distribute children having sex, the producers and director of this film have done the next best thing: a vast array of naked boys parade about performing various tasks..Unless you really are into young boys, you'll find this film a bore”
There are many Canadian sellers of these films. They may be legal to sell (though against eBay policy) but are illegal to buy from the UK. But since the only one who could monitor this is ebay, there appears to be no worry.
Cool Dudes by Baikal: (“Participants are between 11 and 13 years of age” Baikal films) "like all of Kostenyuk’s Foreign Documentaries – “ Cool Dudes ” contains footage shot in the uninhibited European style of full frontal nudity during shower and locker scenes."
I don’t see a fine line between child pornography and films that are filmed and rated by the distributors for the amount of sexual content/nudity (an unconvincing “all actors are 18” is stuck on the “explicit sexual content and nudity” films, especially as IMB actor listings and the distributor own review pages say otherwise). This is particularly true when their publicity and review arm, Moviebizz had a special link for films with actors “14 and under.” We are not talking about random nudist images but a specific industry dedicated to and appreciated by adult-child lovers (including The Association for acceptance of adult-child love relationships’ OK Magazine: notice the article on Pojkart).
So ebay.co.uk, ebay.ca, ebay.com please take some time out of counting your blood money and if you aren’t interested in monitoring and enforcing your own policies regarding child nudity, can you at least monitor the sale of films of sexual exploitation of children to countries where they are illegal?
Ebay: Buy Everything You Want (genuine online ad)
1 hour ago