A handful of Democratic lawmakers are attempting to stop bots from ruining the holiday shopping season this year with their latest bill proposal.
Yesterday, Representative Paul Tonko, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Senator Ben Ray Luján and Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced their Stopping Grinch Bots Act, a bill that clamps down on the use of computer software or system that bypass the security measures of websites. The bill targets shoppers from using bots, which allows them to easily buy coveted products online or in-stores, thus making it harder for the average consumer to access the products at retail. Bot users will typically then take their coveted products and sell them on the secondary market at heavily marked-up prices. In the proposal, Tonko specifically identifies toys as the main target for scalpers, but the bill will also prevent the use of bots on online sneaker retail stores.
In 2016, Tonko’s Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama, which banned the use of bots on online ticketing websites. According to Tonko, the Stopping Grinch Bots Act will adopt a similar structure to the aforementioned law, preventing to use of bots from all online retail sites in the US.
“Allowing grinch bots to rig prices and squeeze consumers during the holiday season hurts American families, small business owners, product makers, and entrepreneurs. We will not allow this market manipulation to go unchecked,” Tonko said in a statement.
The Stopping Grinch Bots Act was originally introduced to the US House of Representatives by Tonko in 2019 but failed a receive any votes from the lawmakers.