Democratic MPs present bill that could ban bots for automatic payment

In short: Buying goods in high demand for resale at an exorbitant markup (also known as scalping) has been a common tactic for decades. Unfortunately, with advances in technology and automated checkout bots, the problem has become virtually unmanageable for retailers and consumers alike looking to get their hands on the latest toys, game consoles and computing hardware. However, some relief may finally appear: lawmakers are introducing legislation that could completely ban the use of checkout robots.

The bill was dubbed the “Grinch Bots Ban Law” and is being introduced by a group of Democratic lawmakers: Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, Paul Tonko and Charles Schumer from New York, and finally Ben Ray Luhan from New Mexico. You will find the full text of the ad at Site Tonko

For starters, we note that although the bulk of the announcement is devoted to bots buying toys and (according to Senator Blumenthal) “spoiled children’s holidays”, the wording of the bill itself is much broader and can apply to a wide range of people. products. This includes the PS5, Xbox Series X / S, and constantly out of print GPUs.

The bill says that it would be illegal to “bypass security measures, access control systems, or other process controls” designed to enforce procurement or inventory control limits. Likewise, it would be illegal to sell goods that the seller knew or should have known that they were acquired through these means. Exceptions are made for security researchers looking for vulnerabilities.

At least that was the text of the bill when it was first introduced in late 2018 and then in 2019. An updated version of the 2021 bill has yet to be published on the official Congress website, although much is unlikely to change.

It’s worth noting that it’s not just Democratic lawmakers seeking to restrict the use of bots and similar technologies in online shopping – Consumer Reports, the National League of Consumers and the Consumer Federation of America have publicly endorsed the law. Republican lawmakers have not signed up yet, but they might support it in the future; if the account manages to get off the ground.

After this summary, what do you think of this legislation? Do you think this is the right step in dealing with bots, or should you adopt a different strategy? Whatever you think, let us know in the comments below.

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