01.12.21News
ARTICLE BY Ross Dwyer
'Stopping Grinch Bots' Act
'Stopping Grinch Bots' Act
'Stopping Grinch Bots' Act,

US Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill To Ban Online Shopping Bots

No matter if you're trying to cop sneakers for yourself (like most ... okay, all of us are) or a holiday gift for a family member, bots are likely the bane of your online shopping existence. No matter how quickly you check out, you can't check out faster than a bot – and that makes for a clearly uneven playing field in the rush to purchase goods.

The days of bots may be numbered though, at least in the USA: Democratic lawmakers in the US government's House of Representatives and Senate are looking to reintroduce a 'Stopping Grinch Bots' act that would prohibit the use of automated bots to buy goods online according to a report from PC Mag. Sponsored by Rep. Paul Tonko and Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Chuck Schumer and Ben Ray Luján, the bill would 'crack down on cyber Grinches using ‘bot’ technology to quickly buy up whole inventories of popular holiday toys and resell them to parents at higher prices​', per a joint statement from the four lawmakers.

This legislation was originally introduced in November 2019 in an attempt to stop bots from buying the holiday season's hottest toys, but with more shoppers than ever getting the season's most desirable gifts (and kicks) online due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lawmakers find it more urgent than ever. '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', said Schumer. '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". Similar legislation was passed in 2016, with a law that outlawed bots from buying up concert tickets and made it illegal for scalpers to resell tickets obtained through bots.

How would this affect buying shoes online? It's hard to tell, exactly, as the bill has yet to pass the House and Senate, but it does state that 'violations shall be treated as unfair or deceptive acts or practices under the Federal Trade Commission Act', which means that penalties would likely be heavy fines for resellers, meaning that their lucrative business could come with a great deal of personal financial risk. The Federal Trade Commission would also be tasked with enforcement if the bill passes.

Stay tuned for more info as the bill moves through the US government! Here's to a level playing field for copping kicks.

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