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Hackers behind car plate auction halt: police

POLICE confirmed yesterday that hackers were responsible for the aborted car plate auction on July 18.

However, some bidders remain skeptical and are trying legal action, claiming the auction was canceled due to low bid prices.
Yuan Yang, a bidder and a lawyer, had his plea to file a lawsuit rejected by Huangpu District People's Court when he appeared before it yesterday. He has now mailed his petition to the court with copies to the Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court, asking it to review the Huangpu court's refusal.

Six other bidders also handed in complaints yesterday or today but the Huangpu court, which has jurisdiction over the case, also refused to accept their petitions.

"I hope the court can give me a definite reply about why it refused to accept the lawsuit," Yuan said. "Auction disputes should be accepted by the court according to the law."

The monthly auction for private car plates was canceled a few minutes before it ended on Saturday.

The Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co said hundreds of thousands of people were logging onto the platform at the same time when the first round of bidding was about to close at 11am.

"The network traffic was suddenly 10 times more than usual and most of them were abnormal bids that disabled the system," it said.

Experts from the auction house teamed up with the anti-hacker division of the city's police to investigate.

"The hacking attack isn't a good reason for withdrawing the contract," Yuan said. "The attack isn't an unavoidable accident and the company, as an online auction organizer, should take every measure to guard its Website against hackers because hacking attacks are so common nowadays."

He said his bid of 500 yuan (US$73.2) had been accepted by the system before the auction company announced the Website failure. It indicated a contract had been formed between him and the auction house. So the auction company had the obligation to continue to perform the contract, he said.

The call-off meant many bidders lost their chance to get a private car plate at a low price. After the first round, the lowest bid was 100 yuan with 8,834 registered bidders.

According to the rules, that meant the final bid price would be 400 yuan at most, a very low price compared to the 30,363 yuan a month earlier.

Some bidders who took part in an online discussion said they did not see any signs of network traffic problems.
This month's bidding has been rescheduled for 10am on Sunday.

A total of 8,000 private car plates are available.


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