Culture minister 'persuaded' by arguments for banning bots

Culture minister 'persuaded' by arguments for banning bots

Culture minister Matt Hancock has said he has been "persuaded" of the need for action over bots that harvest event tickets for resale in the secondary market.

Hancock (pictured) was speaking during last night's Digital Economy Bill sessions in the House Of Commons. The matter will be further discussed at roundtable meetings in parliament tomorrow. 

"Although we would not want to close down the secondary market for tickets altogether, clearly the automatic harvesting of tickets sold below market price - so that fans can afford them - for resale at a higher value is wrong," said the MP.

"We have heard very powerful explanations of the scale of the problem and its breadth. I can confirm that I had great difficulty in buying Paul Simon tickets. Initially, I failed to buy them despite having my finger hovering on my mouse the moment they went on sale, and so I had to buy them at a much greater price in the secondary market. 

"I was still happy to pay hundreds of pounds for my Paul Simon tickets, but the point is that they were meant to be on sale for £75 so that everybody could get them. I am persuaded by the arguments and we shall be holding a roundtable meeting on Wednesday to discuss the best way to tackle the problem. The government will give full consideration to what is said at these round tables, in parliament and in the Waterson report on the issue of ticketing bots and the harvesting market."

Following similar measures taken in New York, Conservative MP Nigel Adams proposed an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill that would criminalise the misuse of so-called "bot" technology to unlawfully harvest event tickets.

"I pay tribute to my hon. friend the Member for Selby and Ainsty [Nigel Adams], who has made a huge amount of the running on this issue. He has made the argument powerfully and, as has been said, the Olympics showed that this can be done."

Channeling Simon & Garfunkel, Hancock added: "I want to build a bridge over troubled waters, listen to the points made at the round table and bring forward legislation in this Bill if this is found to be necessary."

Adams tweeted after yesterday's session: "Minister @MattHancockMP says Govt WILL take action if necessary on bots after mtg with industry later this week."

Yesterday, a cross-party group of MPs and Peers joined with famous faces to call on the government to accept the “Ban the Bots” amendment ahead of the report stage of the Digital Economy Bill, holding a photo call outside of parliament.

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