Dems unveil bill to crack down on bots during holiday shopping

Dems unveil bill to crack down on bots during holiday shopping
© Getty

A team of Democratic lawmakers has introduced a bill to ban bots that purchase large numbers of the newest and trendiest holiday toys, which can lead to higher prices on secondary markets.

Democratic Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJohnson eyes Irish border in Brexit negotiations Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid MORE (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDemocrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Republicans should get behind the 28th Amendment New Mexico says EPA abandoned state in fight against toxic 'forever chemicals' MORE (N.M.) and Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoHouse Democrats push automakers to rebuff Trump, join California's fuel efficiency deal Overnight Energy: Democrats seek help in appealing to conservatives on climate | Whistleblowers say Interior sidelined scientists | Automakers strike fuel efficiency deal with California in rebuff to Trump Interior whistleblowers say agency has sidelined scientists under Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) unveiled the Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018 on Black Friday.

The bill would ban the bots — software programs written to quickly buy trendy toys — from overriding online retailers' security measures, allowing them to then make the bulk purchases.

Schumer said in a statement that the bill will help create an "even playing field" for Americans buying toys for their children.

ADVERTISEMENT

"When it comes to purchasing products online, major retailers should put forth policies that will help prevent future Grinch bots from stealing the season’s hottest toys," he said.

The legislation is based on the 2016 Better Online Ticket Sales Act that banned similar bots from purchasing tickets to events like concerts en masse to drive up prices for other buyers.

Udall said in a statement that these bots are seeking to "snatch up beloved toys and highly discounted items to sell at outrageously inflated markups — all with a few keystrokes."

"Holiday shopping can be stressful enough without having to compete with an army of ‘Grinch bots’ that don’t even have to sneak down the chimney to steal presents," Udall said. "Our legislation would help protect consumers from getting squeezed by scammers and ensure these ‘Grinch bots’ don’t spoil the holidays for our loved ones."

The bill was introduced just ahead of Cyber Monday, the largest online shopping day of the year. This year's event is expected to set records in online sales.