Monday, December 6, 2021

UK MP Renews Bid to Ban Console Scalping Bots

After a failed bid earlier this year, a UK MP is once again bringing a bill to tackle scalping bots, which have caused issues with supplies of next-gen consoles, graphics cards, and other high-demand goods.

UK Member of Parliament Douglas Chapman has written to the government's Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture, and Sport in the hope to renew interest in legislation that would look to tackle automated scalping bots that have plagued consumers and inflated prices.

Chapman, who is currently the acting MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, is hoping to increase pressure on the government to act on the issue by raising a new motion on the matter after previously bringing forward a bill earlier this year.

“This time last year it was brought to my attention by constituents that scalpers were using automated bots to bulk buy goods for resale leaving consumers with either no option but to purchase these items at hugely inflated prices or go without, a sorry state of affairs at any time, never mind in the run-up to Christmas," explained Chapman in a press release.

“Earlier this year I met with the then Secretary of State at DCMS to highlight this issue; I have now written for a second time to the new Secretary of State for DMCS, Nadine Dorries, to reassess the need to 'ban the bots' to include a wider range of in-demand goods. I have alerted her to the fact that across the Atlantic, our Democrat colleagues have also reawakened their original ‘Stopping Grinch Bots Act’ in a bid to stymie this growing problem and its ill effects on both consumers and retailers.”

Chapman's first bill was brought before Parliament back in March but failed to move any further. Although the bill made no further progress, this won't have come as much a surprise to the MP. At the time, Chapman acknowledged that the bill was unlikely to pass, but held the belief that introducing it in the first place would help to force the government to "take responsibility" over the ongoing issue.

While pressure from MPs in the UK continues to mount over the issue, lawmakers in the US are continuing to do the same. Last week, a number of Democrats reintroduced a bill aimed at stopping scalpers from using bots to hoard products away from consumers. Aptly named the "Stopping Grinch Bots Act," the bill was reintroduced on November 29 by Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).

“At a time when families should be able to spend time with their loved ones, digital 'Grinch bots' are forcing Americans to scour online sites in the hopes of finding an affordable gift or paying exorbitant prices for a single toy,” Tonko said in a press release. “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."

As we enter the holidays, the timeframe for stopping the use of scalping bots this year has long passed. However, those attempting to rectify the matter in government will be hoping that changes are able to come into effect sooner rather than later in order to minimize future problems for shoppers.

Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.


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