In conjunction with a private legal action in the State of California, The ACCG has issued a declaration of opposition to the release by eBay Inc. of customer names to a foreign government.
ACCG, on behalf of its constituency of ancient coin collectors has submitted a declaration of opposition to the release by eBay Inc. of customer names to an Italian law enforcement agency. The privacy of collectors is of utmost concern for their own protection and that of their property and the unwarranted release of names without due process is a matter of great concern to the guild. Customers of eBay whose names were released have not violated any U.S. law and no international law that the guild is aware of. The actions of eBay are therefore inappropriate and capricious in the eyes of collectors and the ACCG. Following is the text of the ACCG declaration as presented.
"The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild is a non-profit organization that represents the interests of private collectors nationwide. The guild is comprised of 475 individual members, and 18 Affiliate Member clubs that expand the direct representation to more than 4,000 collectors. In practice, the ACCG represents the interests of some 50,000 collectors of ancient coins in the United States.
The legitimate trade in ancient coins can be traced back to the 15th century and has flourished internationally since that time. Countless millions of coins have changed ownership and have been transferred across national boundaries without the slightest hinderance or need for record keeping. In 1970, a radical philosophy emerged when Cultural Property Nationalists (CPNs) under the auspices of UNESCO formulated a template for limiting access to the past. The "Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property" took aim not only at 'illicit" or stolen property, but at the entire trade in artifacts that are more than 100 years old. The general attitude of CPNs is that virtually everything antique or ancient is of cultural significance and should be stewarded by a select and narrow group. Their belief is that everything cultural, especially if it came out of the ground, belongs to the nation in which it was found. By that definition, they therefore claim that all antiquities that transit beyond the borders of that nation are, or were at some time, "stolen". This view ignores the existence of a huge accumulation of ancient coins and other common objects from antiquity that have been legally acquired by private individuals over the past 500 years and are traded continuously in international markets today. It is impossible to characterize an individual ancient object as stolen or "illicit" based on its type or description, or even by the location of its seller.
Several members of the ACCG have reported in recent months that their privacy has been infringed, and their personal activities scrutinized, by the release of customer information from Ebay to CPNs or law enforcement agencies of foreign states acting on their behalf. Lacking a legitimate basis for the release of information, this action is extremely vagarious and capricious. The release compromises not only the privacy of individuals, but the security of their person and their property as well. To release information about American citizens to a foreign state, or even to U.S. law enforcement agencies, without specific cause or warrant is highly objectionable. All the more so when the product is one that is unregulated and is sold openly and legally worldwide. It should be mentioned here that the United States has never imposed import restrictions on ancient coins of Italian origin and there are no such restrictions in place today.
The ACCG strongly objects to the release of customer information by Ebay or any other public marketplace manager without specific legal justification and due process.