Dems unveil bill to crack down on bots during holiday shopping

Dems unveil bill to crack down on bots during holiday shopping
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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 Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar MORE (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Luján suggests he's considering run for Udall's Senate seat José Serrano says he has Parkinson's, will not seek reelection MORE (N.M.) and Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoDem divisions deepen over approach to climate change Overnight Energy: Interior chief moves to protect access to public lands | Dem rolls out climate plan meant to appeal to GOP | LA County bans weed killer Roundup Top Dem lawmaker rolls out climate plan to appeal to GOP 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.

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"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.