WASHINGTON — Congress wants to stop robots- yes, robots - from grabbing all of the hottest concert and sporting event tickets before you get a chance.
A House committee will soon debate the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, also known as the BOTS Act.
It would outlaw computer hacking software that instantly buys up hundreds or even thousands of online tickets to live events.
Consumer advocates say scalpers use bots to electronically cut in line. They then buy tickets to concerts and other live events immediately after the tickets go on sale.
"These tickets are Hoovered by tickets bots," said John Breyault, with the National Consumers League. "Then (the tickets) are quickly turned around and resold for often two, three, four, even five times the face value on resale websites."
Under the bill, using bots would become a federal crime.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will debate two bills addressing this type of software in the ticketing and resale industries.
The BOSS Act, or the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act, would require ticket sellers to disclose how many tickets they are offering to the public and what it will cost to purchase them.
The National Consumers League said out of the 750,000 tickets available for Adele's North American Tour, fewer than half were available to the general public. The other tickets went to fan club presales, credit card reward programs, venues and artists.
The bill would also make it a crime to use computer software to circumvent the security features of a ticket selling website or flood it with requests.
"The bill also establishes tough civil and criminal penalties for this behavior, ensuring that this provision will be an effective deterrent," said Breyault.
A dozen states have passed anti-bot laws. Consumer advocates say said Congress needs to step in at the national level.
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