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May promises action on Waterson report

British PM Theresa May today said her government will look "very carefully" at Prof Waterson's findings – as MP (and Green Day fan) Nigel Adams crusades to outlaw bots

By Jon Chapple on 19 Oct 2016

Theresa May, UK Home Office

image © Home Office

Just over a month after Professor Michael Waterson said he was concerned government has yet to respond to his recommendations for the regulation of Britain’s secondary ticketing market, prime minister Theresa May has pledged to look “very carefully” at his findings “to see what can be done to address the issue” of unauthorised ticket touting in the UK.

Mrs May (pictured), speaking in parliament today during Prime Minister’s Questions, was responding to a question from Nigel Adams, the member of parliament for Selby and Ainsty.

Referring to an incident in which he’d fallen lost out to ticket bots, Adams said: “A few weeks ago, I thought I’d successfully bought four tickets online for one of my favourite bands, Green Day” – cue much laughing from the house – “only to be told the tickets were unavailable and the gig sold out. Within minutes I could buy the tickets on another site for twice the price.

“It turns out the ticket site had been the victim of a computerised attack by organised touts, who then resell the tickets at inflated prices.

“Will the prime minister ask her ministers to give close consideration to my amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, which would make the computerised targeting of tickets for resale an offence? Similar legislation exists elsewhere, and it would go a long way towards protecting consumers and genuine music fans.”

Adams’s amendment to the bill, for which the government hopes to achieve royal assent by spring 2017, would make it an offence to “use digital ticket purchasing software to purchase tickets for an event over and above the number permitted in the condition of sale” and “knowingly resell tickets using such software”.

“If this amendment is made law, it would help turn the the tide and ensure the ticketing market works in favour of fans rather than touts”

Adams has the support of the world’s largest secondary ticketing site, StubHub, which has itself come in for criticism from anti-touting groups (most recently the FanFair Alliance). A spokeswoman tells IQ: “We have consistently supported anti-bot legislation, and recently gave evidence to the US Senate Commerce Committee on this subject. This is one of the biggest issues that the ticketing industry faces.

“However, legislation alone cannot solve this. Professor Waterson’s review into the secondary ticket market concluded that event organisers and primary ticketing companies need to develop better technology in the fight against bots, which we fully support.”

FanFair also welcomes the amendment. The group’s campaign manager, Adam Webb, says: “Instinctively, I suspect most people would feel that hacking into a ticket sale with the sole intention of hoovering up huge volumes of inventory to then resell for profit would be illegal.

“Along with enforcement of existing consumer legislation – something that is urgently needed – if this amendment is made law, it would help turn the the tide and ensure that the ticketing market works in favour of fans, rather than touts and the under-regulated secondary platforms they operate from.”

Adams’s amendment will be debated in parliament on 27 October.


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