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CMS Committee: Ban bots now

The committee, which last week grilled StubHub and Ticketmaster in an evidence session on 'ticket abuse', has recommended "immediate measures" to criminalise ticket bots

By IQ on 24 Nov 2016

Karen Bradley, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, UK Home Office, ticket bots letter

image © UK Home Office

Members of the UK’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee – who earlier this month heard from music and ticketing industry figures in a heated evidence session on ticket abuse – has recommended “immediate measures” to ban the use of ticket bots.

In a letter to culture secretary Karen Bradley (pictured), dated 22 November, which can be read in full here, committee chairman Damian Collins says there is unanimous agreement in the need for “immediate measures to be taken to make it an offence to use digital ticket purchasing software to buy up an excessive number of tickets for events, as has happened in other jurisdictions”.

Despite digital culture minister Matt Hancock saying previously that in his view the use of bots is prohibited by the Computer Misuse Act 1990, Collins concludes the act “does not seem to allow sufficient provision or clarity in this area, and as such there is a strong case for new legislation here to prevent individuals manipulating online ticketing systems”.

The best course of action, suggests the committee, is to amend the Digital Economy Bill, as suggested by Nigel Adams MP, ahead of the House of Commons’ consideration of the bill next Monday.

“There seems to be a lot of consensus on amending the Digital Economy Bill to ban technology that harvests tickets on a large scale before genuine fans ever get a look-in”

“The answers we got from witnesses representing the ticket sellers and resellers went from complacent to evasive, and their failure to provide the most basic assurances about what they’re doing to tackle known large scale touts and fraudsters operating on their own sites – we had an example on screen in front of a member [of Parliament] in the session – have led us to believe there may be much bigger problems in this market than we originally thought,” reads a statement from Collins.

“We are writing to the secretary of state [Bradley] to ask her to begin to look more closely at this issue, but also as a first step that there seems to be a lot of consensus on amending the Digital Economy Bill to ban technology that harvests tickets on a large scale before genuine fans ever get a look-in.”

The banning of bots will apparently be a prelude to a much larger inquiry into ticketing in general, as reported by IQ last week.


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