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Senate panel advances ticket bots crackdown

Senate panel advances ticket bots crackdown
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A Senate panel on Wednesday advanced legislation meant to combat ticket bot software that snaps up large swathes of tickets to live events so they can be resold at a higher price.

The Senate Commerce Committee signed off by voice vote on the Better Online Ticket Sales Act with minor alterations to the bill.

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The legislation empowers the Federal Trade Commission to go after people who use or sell the software. It also lets state attorneys general pursue civil actions over the use of the software.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said that he decided not to push an amendment to include additional transparency measures that would affect the broader ticket market.

“This is something that’s held in the dark away from [the] public eye and if it was open to public scrutiny, I’m confident that behavior would change,” he said.

The bill’s author, Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranIt's time for Congress to act: Save jobs and stabilize the aerospace industry Lobbying world This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans MORE (R-Kansas), said that the transparency measures would have made it harder for the bill to be passed by the full Senate.

“It is narrowly tailored to address a specific issue and that narrow tailoring makes it possible for it to pass Congress quickly,” he said.

Criminal penalties for using the software, which some have proposed, are also not included in the bill. The bill is nonetheless supported by many in the live events industry.

At a hearing last week, “Hamilton” producer Jeffrey Seller argued that the bill in an important step to introducing fairness in the marketplace.

“I’m advocating for a level playing field,” he said last week. "We need to prevent bots from tampering with a system that is designed to allow all consumer access to tickets at face value.”

A similar bill passed the House last week without controversy. Moran said the legislation’s supporters were “anxious” to get the bill to the floor in the upper chamber.