Proposed Legislation Could Stop PS5 and Xbox Scalpers From Using Bots

More than a year after their release, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X remain incredibly difficult to obtain. A big part of the problem is that bots are being used to scoop up all the product the second it's made available online. Then, resellers are charging double the MSRP or more for the consoles. Luckily, it seems an end might be in sight! A group of Democratic lawmakers are pushing to pass the "Stopping Grinch Bots Act." The legislation would make it illegal to use bots to purchase products, and would punish those that sell products obtained using them. 

The legislation is being pushed by New York Representative Paul Tonko, alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, and New Mexico's Ben Ray Lujan. While PS5 and Xbox Series X are the first things that come to mind, the legislation seems to extend to essentially any product purchased using bots. In a press release, Schumer talked up the benefits of passing the legislation.

"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. 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," said Schumer. "It is of upmost importance that these Grinch bots are thwarted in their attempts to steal Christmas – and money – from hardworking Americans."

While the legislation might sound too good to be true, it's not without precedent. In 2016, Blumenthal, Schumer, and Tonko were able to pass the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, which stops resellers from using bots to purchase tickets for concerts and sporting events. The Stopping Grinch Bots Act "would apply the mechanism of the BOTS Act to e-commerce sites to ban bots bypassing security measures on online retail sites." Given the polarized nature of the American political system, it's hard to say whether or not this might get passed, but it's hard to see a downside to this proposal! It should be noted that the UK also considered similar legislation earlier this year. Unfortunately, nothing seems to have come of that so far, but hopefully the U.S. will find greater success!

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