BOTS Act punishing online scalpers passes Senate, moves on to the House

Scalpers who use bots to slam ticket websites and snatch up a huge proportion of seats at popular shows may soon find themselves in violation of federal law. The Senate and House have both passed versions of a bill criminalizing the practice.

The Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016, or the BOTS Act, basically prohibits the circumvention of security measures and website policies governing how many tickets one can buy. Scalpers would set up networks of computers (likely virtualized) armed with credit cards and fake buyer info to hammer sites like Ticketmaster as soon as ticket sales went live.

The result, as you’ve probably experienced yourself, was often major slowdowns and ticket shortages — though of course you could get that $40 ticket for $100 an hour or two later on StubHub, Craigslist, or Facebook. Interstate sales of bot-acquired tickets would also be made illegal.

A version of the bill passed the House in September, and the Senate version passed yesterday is largely the same, except that the former also prohibits sale of software intended to be used for bot scalping purposes.

This modified Senate version will head back to the House for re-approval, then it’s on to the President.