Nov 3, 2023 2 min read

US senators propose new laws to ramp up the battle against ticketing bots

Two US senators have proposed new laws to better enforce the 2016 BOTS Act, which banned the use of bots by ticket touts to hoover up tickets to in-demand events from primary sellers

US senators propose new laws to ramp up the battle against ticketing bots

Two US senators have introduced new legislative proposals to beef up existing laws that seek to stop the use of bots by ticket touts (or scalpers) to hoover up tickets to in-demand events.

One of those senators, Marsha Blackburn, previously instigated the 2016 BOTS Act, which banned the use of ticketing bots. The new proposals seek to better enforce the ban.

“A fan should be able to buy tickets to live events without bots stealing them and hiking the price”, the senator says. “We have given the FTC the tools they need to help reduce ticket costs and protect consumers and artists from scammers. Now we must ensure they are enforcing it. This bipartisan legislation builds upon my work to safeguard artists and their fans in the online ticket marketplace”.

The new proposals are set out in the Mitigating Automated Internet Networks for Event Ticketing Act - or the MAIN Event Ticketing Act if you prefer - with Democrat Ben Ray Luján joining Republican Blackburn in introducing the legislation in Congress.

A summary of the act states that the new laws would create "reporting requirements whereby online ticket sellers have to report successful bot attacks to the FTC". There would also be "data security requirements for online ticket sellers" and obligations to share information between the FTC and law enforcement.

The act would also require the launch of a complaints database via which ticket-buyers “can share their experiences with the FTC", which would in turn be "required to share the information with state attorneys general". And there would be a requirement for the FTC to update Congress on BOTS Act enforcement.

There have been lots of proposals for new laws in relation to ticketing in the US this year, after the debacle last year around the sale of tickets to Taylor Swift's tour put the wider ticketing business very much back into the spotlight. Generally speaking, different stakeholders in the live music community have different priorities when it comes to what new rules should be introduced.

That said, pretty much everyone opposes the use of bots by touts to access tickets from primary ticketing sites. Other than the bot users, obviously. But the resale platforms that touts and scalpers utilise to sell on their tickets are also usually supportive of anti-bot legislation.

The US National Independent Venue Association said yesterday: "We believe in restoring trust in the ticketing experience for fans, and we stand ready to work with Senators Blackburn and Luján to ensure this legislation advances as part of critical comprehensive ticketing reform".

And Live Nation's Ticketmaster told Billboard: "We see first-hand that scalper bot armies are only getting larger and more sophisticated. Scalpers make billions each year and, until there are real consequences, they will continue to rob fans of tickets at the onsale, which is why we’ve long supported much stronger enforcement".

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