Online Auction Ethics

The purpose of this document is intended to provide an answer to what moral or ethical constraints should be placed upon users of online auctions, if any at all.

When the question arises of what types of constraints should be put in place to prevent users of online auctions from putting immoral, unethical, or otherwise offensive items for bid on an online auction, some people may argue that the constraints goes against their 1st amendment rights of freedom of speech (Shouhong Wang and Diana Kao, 2005). Others may argue that when a person creates an account and accepts the agreement, they are knowingly subjecting themselves to anything that they may find offensive, immoral, or unethical. There is without a question of a doubt a need for some sort of constraints put in place, but where is the limit? Who needs to monitor and police the constraints? Who needs to regulate should be sold and what is not to be allowed?

Online auction sites, like Amazon or eBay, have disclaimers, which protects them from current laws. Even though online auction sites have disclaimers to protect them from current laws, the laws are being challenged. The online auction sites reserve the right to modify this disclaimer as the laws change and thus allowing the online sites to protect themselves. Auction sites also reserve the right to disallow anybody whom they feel is not abiding by their rules from using the online auction (Barker).

In conclusion, when the question is asked about who should be monitoring immoral material being placed on online auctions; I think it is the sole responsibility of each and every individual user to decide what should be allowed. If a user finds something so offensive, then it should be up to that person to report it to the online auction for further review, after all, what is immoral to one person might not be the same for another. It should be up to the online auction owners to follow the law and their policies should reflect the law. If a user is not following their policies, the online auction owners should ban the users from using the auction.


1. Shouhong Wang, and Diana Kao (2005). A Model for Monitoring and Enforcing Online Auction Ethics. A Model for Monitoring and Enforcing Online Auction Ethics, Retrieved August 14, 2008, from
2. Barker, Alex W. Ethics, E-Commerce, and the Future of the Past. Retrieved August 14, 2008, from Ethics, E-Commerce, and the Future of the Past Web site: [URL Removed Broken link]