New Bill Aims to Ban Scalper Bots That Snatch Up Hot Items to Resell

If you've tried to purchase a hot ticket item online recently, you've probably walked away empty-handed as the items sell out sometimes in a matter of seconds.

So-called "scalper bots" are likely to blame. They're pieces of software designed to detect when certain items get restocked at online retailers and to automatically purchase them, sometimes only taking milliseconds to complete. From there, the person using the scalper bot then takes the items and flips them on the secondary market for huge profits.

The bots combined with the massive supply chain issues has lead to some items being

Take for example the Sony PlayStation 5, which at the time of its release last year, was selling on average for about $1,200 on eBay despite an MSRP of $500. At the time of this writing, many are still selling for well over $700.

Now, a new bill is being introduced is taking aim at these bots, hoping to outlaw them entirely.

On Monday, Democrats Paul Tonko, Richard Blumenthal and Chuck Schumer of New York and Ray Lujan of New Mexico announced a push for the Stopping Grinch Bots Act.

The bill was originally introduced back in 2019, but since then the botting issue has become far, far worse.

Schumer says, "The average holiday shopper is unable to compete with the light speed of the all-too-common Grinch bot and are then held at ransom by scalpers and third-party resellers when trying to buy holiday presents. After a particularly trying year, no parent or American should have to fork over hundreds—or even thousands—of dollars to buy Christmas and holiday gifts for their children and loved ones."

The bill looks to expand on a law passed in 2016 that banned similar bots that were used to buy up tickets for public events like concerts and sports games and made it illegal to resell tickets snatched up by the bots.

The Act would apply the same sort of principals to all online retail websites. The FTC would be in charge of implementing the measures to stop the scalper bots.

The first attempt to pass the bill stalled. But in today's world with the significant supply chain issues ongoing, it's likely to garner more support this time around.


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