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Congress introduces a bill to stop Grinch bots from buying up everything

This is the second time the bill has made its way to Congress.

grinch bots new law
Image: KnowTechie

A group of Democrat lawmakers in Congress has its eyes on internet bot scalpers during this holiday season. Lawmakers introduced a bill, known as the “Stopping Grinch Bots Act,” to try and stop bot scalpers from sucking up all of the hot-ticket items as soon as they go on sale.

Earlier this week, Representative Paul Tonko revealed the bill in a release on his website. Tonko, alongside Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schemer, and Senator Ben Ray Luján reintroduced the bill to congress in an effort to stop malicious actors from using bots to buy up high-profile items, making prices skyrocket as a result.

Here’s what the Stopping Grinch Bots would aim to do. First, it would “prohibit manipulative technical practices that allow bad actors to use bots to circumvent control measures.”

It would also make it a Federal Trade Commission violation to circumvent security or control measures on a site. And it would make it illegal to sell any products or services acquired in that fashion.

Bot scalpers are definitely not a new phenomenon

xbox series x and playstation 5 on purple background
Image: KnowTechie

This isn’t the first time that this bill has made its way to congress. In fact, Tonko, Blumenthal, and Schumer actually introduced the bill back in 2019. But the effort seemingly stalled out, and the representatives have decided to revisit this bill as part of the 2021 holiday season.

According to PCMag, that wasn’t even the first bill of this kind to make its way to Congress. In 2016, Congress passed a similar law outlawing automated bots from being able to buy up tickets for concerts and events using a similar method to the one explained above.

The Stopping Grinch Bots Act would essentially apply the same rules to all online retail sales, which could be a huge help during the massive supply chain shortages that the world is experiencing.

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Take gaming consoles, for instance. The new PS5 and Xbox Series X|S came out over a year ago now and they are still having stock issues. But every time an online store gets restocked with the consoles, it has to combat potentially thousands of bots that manipulate systems in order to buy up all the stock. Then these scammers repost the consoles for sale on another site for two to three times more than the actual price.

It would be nice to see something like this actually be made into law, as bot scalpers continue to be a major contributor to the supply chain issues that we are seeing today.

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