Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Crack Down on Online Shopping ‘Grinch Bots’

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Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill this week that would crack down on “Grinch Bots,” Internet shopping bots that prevent real consumers from ordering hotly desired items.

Democratic lawmakers Chuck Schumer, Tom Udall, and Paul Tonko have introduced a bill that would crack down on internet shopping bots, programs that instantly buy items upon their release. The bots make it nearly impossible for non-bot shoppers to purchase these items. To make matters worse, those behind the bots typically take the bot-purchased items and sell them for exorbitant prices on online marketplaces like eBay and Mercari.

“When it comes to purchasing products online, major retailers should put forth policies that will help prevent future Grinch bots from stealing the season’s hottest toys,” Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

Udall also argued that the bots are essentially “stealing” holiday gifts. He also expanded upon the “Grinch” theme.

We can’t let ‘Grinch bots’ steal our hard-earned money—or the holidays. Each holiday season, New Mexicans work day in and day out, saving up and looking for the best deals to surprise friends and family with thoughtful gifts. But when resellers use automated ‘Grinch bots’ to cheat the system, they can snatch up beloved toys and highly discounted items to sell at outrageously inflated markups—all with a few keystrokes. Holiday shopping can be stressful enough without having to compete with an army of ‘Grinch bots’ that don’t even have to sneak down the chimney to steal presents. Our legislation would help protect consumers from getting squeezed by scammers and ensure these ‘Grinch bots’ don’t spoil the holidays for our loved ones. This year, let’s hope Congress’s heart will grow three sizes so we can come together to stop Grinch bots from stealing the holidays.

The “Grinch” bot bill could potentially find bipartisan support in Congress. Schumer brought up the issue of “Grinch” bots in December 2017 but no real progress has been made since then. Hopefully, Schumer isn’t just pandering to his constituents and actually intends to push this bill through.

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