Nearly two years into the pandemic, shortages of high-end tech items like graphics cards and next-gen consoles are still happening and probably will be for the next year at least. Besides the global supply chain being more twisted than a pretzel, scalpers are using bots to buy up whatever inventory is out there in order to resell these items for a huge markup. If you don't have a bot of your own working on your side, you're basically out of luck.
The problem has become so bad that it's a political issue now. Several US Representatives recently proposed a bill that would ban scalpers from using bots, and now the UK is looking to follow suit.
Douglas Chapman, UK MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, is once again proposing a law that would ban the bots. His bill was initially proposed last February and brought to Parliament in March, but didn't get enough traction to become law. Almost a year later, he's once again renewing calls to ban bots in order to save holiday shoppers.
“This time last year it was brought to my attention by constituents that scalpers were using automated bots to bulk buy goods for resale leaving consumers with either no option but to purchase these items at hugely inflated prices or go without, a sorry state of affairs at any time, never mind in the run-up to Christmas," Chapman wrote in a statement, noting that a similar law is being considered in the United States.
“Earlier this year I met with the then Secretary of State at DCMS to highlight this issue; I have now written for a second time to the new Secretary of State for DMCS, Nadine Dorries, to reassess the need to 'ban the bots' to include a wider range of in-demand goods. I have alerted her to the fact that across the Atlantic, our Democrat colleagues have also reawakened their original ‘Stopping Grinch Bots Act’ in a bid to stymie this growing problem and its ill effects on both consumers and retailers.”
The proposed US law would empower the FTC to sue bot users, but it remains to be seen how enforcement would actually work. Both US and UK bills have yet to be voted on.
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