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 SchumerDemocrats are facing political consequences over shutdown The Supreme Court shouldn’t do the president’s dirty work to end DACA Scalise: Trump wants Congress to solve shutdown problem MORE (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate in last-minute talks to find deal to avert shutdown  House-passed stopgap measure in Senate limbo Consumer groups accuse Google of marketing inappropriate apps toward children MORE (N.M.) and Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoThe Year Ahead: Dems under pressure to deliver on green agenda Progressives say dire climate reports point to need for ‘Green New Deal’ Hillicon Valley: Justices weigh iPhone app case | Farewell to Facebook's war room? | UK Parliament turns up heat on Zuckerberg | Russian hackers return after midterms | Papadopoulos begins 2-week prison sentence | NASA lands probe on Mars 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.