What Web Servers Collect when You’re on eBay

By Marsha Collier

Information is collected all over the Internet, including any time you use eBay. Every time that you log on to the Internet, you leave an electronic trail of information; it’s just like when you’re on a scavenger hunt.

eBay, like millions of other websites, uses servers, which are immense pieces of hardware that do nothing but collect and transfer bits (and bytes) of information day and night. Your Internet connection has a special address (IP address) that identifies you to all servers when you surf the Net. This is called an IP (Internet Protocol) address and is often used by law enforcement to track those whose shenanigans wreak havoc on websites — or on other users.

If you’re curious, check out IPGeek find out your personal IP address.

Web servers all over the Internet track some or all of the following information:

  • What website you came in from
  • The ISP (Internet Service Provider) that you use
  • The items that you’re selling or viewing on eBay
  • The websites you linked your listings to
  • Your favorite websites (if you link them to your Profile page)

eBay collects the following information while you visit the eBay site or use the mobile app:

  • What you do while logged on to the site
  • Which categories you tend to browse
  • Which items you’ve viewed recently
  • What times you log on and log off

Like incredible Internet archivists, eBay’s servers keep a record of everything you bid on, win, and sell — which is great news if you have a problem with a transaction and need eBay to investigate. Also, eBay couldn’t display feedback about you and other users if its servers didn’t store all the feedback you write and receive.

Have you ever sent a message to eBay? eBay’s servers record it and keep it in some murky recess of eBay’s memory. Remember, this is the age of digital commerce, and the people on eBay run a serious business that depends on e-commerce. They have to keep everything in case they need it later.

eBay’s Privacy Center has all the legalese, presented in an easy-to-read fashion.

You can also surf the Internet free of cookies and tracking if you use Google’s Chrome browser, Firefox, Safari, or a recent version of Internet Explorer. These browsers have an option that allows you to visit the web without giving off a trace of who you are. It’s called Incognito, private browsing, or invisible mode. You can get into this mode easily, after you’ve installed the browser, by typing Ctrl+Shift+N.