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MPs Demand Action Against Ticket Tout Bots

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Politicians want the Government to make it illegal for touts to use computer software to harvest tickets as soon as they go on sale

A group of MPs has demanded that the Government take action against touts using software to snap up swathes of tickets the moment they go on sale – which they then resell at inflated prices.

Last week, the cross-party culture, media and sport committee was presented with evidence regarding touts who offer tickets to events on resale websites, such as StubHub and Viagogo. The MPs said they discovered evidence of a disturbingly close relationship between ticket resale websites and ticket touts.

Complacent and evasive

Conservative MP Damian Collins, the committee’s chairman, said: “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 have led us to believe there may be much bigger problems in this market than we originally thought.”

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley

This led to the MPs requesting an inquiry be held in order to scrutinise the tax practices of secondary ticket selling businesses.

Nigel Adams MP has also suggested that an amendment be made to the Digital Economy Bill, which is yet to be ratified. This amendment would make the use of software to buy large numbers of event tickets a crime.

Collins has written to Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, requesting immediate steps be taken to stop tickets for the likes of music festivals and football matches being harvested by bots.

His letter read: “We are writing to the secretary of state 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.”

Collins added that “immediate measures” must 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.

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