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UK ticket touting bots ban comes into effect 

By | Published on Thursday 5 July 2018

Ticket touts

Did you hear that creak at midnight? That was the bots ban coming into effect. The bots are now banned. All of them. Fuck off bots, you’re not welcome here.

So, yes, the use of special software to hoover up large quantities of tickets from primary ticketing sites in order to sell them on for profit is now against the law. The so called bots ban is generally the least controversial of the measures proposed by anti-ticket touting campaigners. It aims to cut off one of the routes via which touts access tickets.

That said, there was initially a little push back from the UK government over a specific ban on ticket touting bots. But that was mainly on the basis that the use of such technology to circumvent maximum purchase restrictions but in place by concert promoters was possibly already illegal under existing computer misuse regulations.

But ministers ultimately backed the push for a new law that explicitly banned the use of software to acquire large numbers of tickets. It was then inserted into last year’s Digital Economy Act. Since that act was passed some time was spent working out exactly how the ban would operate, which is why it only actually comes into effect today.

The government’s Digital & Creative Industries Minister, Margot James, said this morning: “Fans deserve the chance to see their favourite artists at a fair price. Too often they have been priced out of the market due to unscrupulous touts buying up huge batches of tickets and selling them on at ridiculous prices. From today I am pleased to say that we have successfully banned the bots. We are giving the power back to consumers to help to make 2018 a great year for Britain’s booming events scene”.

The bots ban was welcomed by STAR, which represents much of the primary ticketing sector. It’s boss Jonathan Brown said: “Ticket limits are set by event organisers and ticketing companies to enable fairer distribution of tickets. STAR, the industry body representing over ninety percent of UK live entertainment ticketing, therefore welcomes these new regulations which are an important step in helping ensure that more tickets get into the hands of customers at the right prices”.

The anti-touting FanFair campaign played a key role in pushing for the bots ban. It’s Campaign Manager Adam Webb said this morning: “Taking action against touts who bulk-harvest tickets is another important step towards cleaning up the so-called secondary market. Alongside strong and swift enforcement of consumer legislation through agencies like National Trading Standards and the Competition & Markets Authority, there is clear potential to root out the bad actors and to allow a new breed of fair, transparent, and law-abiding ticket resale services to flourish”.

As alluded to there, the bots ban is just one way that anti-touting campaigners believe that the secondary ticketing market could and should be regulated. And, indeed, since the bots ban was the talking point in Westminster, the anti-touting conversation has very much moved on to introducing other restrictions and – even more so – to better enforcing existing rules against the dodgier touts and touting platforms.