New UK anti-bot ticketing legislation

February 2018

Live events sector


The UK Government has unveiled new legislation aimed at preventing ticket touts from using so called ‘bots’ to bulk buy tickets. The new measure will be a new criminal offence contained in the Digital Economy Act, and touts who use automated software to harvest tickets to sell on at inflated prices, in effect circumventing limits on maximum ticket purchases set by event organisers and vars on the subsequent re-sale of tickets, will face unlimited fines.

Matt Hancock, the UK’s minister for the creative industries, said: “We’re determined to make sure 2018 is the year we help real fans get the chance to see their favourite music and sports stars at a fair price. We’ll be acting to stamp out the growing problem of touts misusing technology to scoop up vast numbers of tickets only to sell them on at rip-off prices” adding “Our work, together with improvements by industry, will help make the market more transparent and mean a great year for Britain’s thriving live events scene.”

The UK Government has now notified the European Commission of its plans to take forward the proposals, a move that comes as part of a crackdown to tackle misuse of the secondary ticketing market, with Ministers committed to accept all the recommendations put forward in the Waterson report into secondary ticketing, published last year which included stronger enforcement of consumer rights law and making ticketing sites be more transparent in the information secondary platforms display. The Government had already announced that National Trading Standards would be handed a ringfenced pot of money to fund efforts to stop fans being over charged or shut out of the most in-demand events.

In December 2017, Trading Standards made four arrests as part of its investigation into the business activities of large-scale secondary ticket sellers in the UK. In a separate investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority raided the London offices of StubHub and Viagogo. The new arrests are linked to alleged breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which introduce a general prohibition against unfair commercial practices, specific prohibitions against misleading and aggressive practices and a blacklist of 31 practices that will be deemed unfair in all circumstances.

Very amusing headline(s) in the Register here

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