A group of Democrat lawmakers have reintroduced a bill in the U.S. Congress which takes aim at the recent trend of online profiteering by scalpers and the bots they employ to hoard high-demand items and sell them onwards well above their retail price.
In a press release, they say: “these bots don’t just squeeze consumers, they pose a problem for small businesses, local retailers and other entrepreneurs trying to ensure they have the best items in stock for their customers.”
The bill would expand upon a 2016 law that outlawed bots from purchasing tickets for music and sporting events, and made it illegal to resell said tickets obtained by use of bots.
How the new law would be enforced isn’t clear, nor is how this would work with bot users located outside the United States or with automated programs that check site inventories but don’t make purchases.
The bill was first introduced two years ago, but the attempt stalled in congressional committees. However since the pandemic began, the issue has only increased and become more persistent – especially with ongoing supply chain issues, and safety concerns posed by in-person shopping.
The new bill has reportedly received support from Consumer Reports, The Consumer Federation of America, and the National Consumers League.