Culture minister Matt Hancock has signed the commencement order for the Digital Economy Bill, which includes measures to combat industrial scale ticket touting.
A commencement order is a statutory instrument that brings into force all or part of an Act of Parliament at a date later than the date the Act was passed.
The Bill, which was backed by MPs in Westminster earlier this year, was given Royal Assent in April. It includes an amendment giving the government the power to create a new criminal offence of using bots to bypass limits on maximum ticket purchases set by event organisers. Touts who use bots to bulk buy tickets could face unlimited fines under the new legislation.
Hancock (pictured) was reappointed as Minister of State for Digital & Culture by Prime Minister Theresa May, following June’s General Election.
"We are criminalising misuse of bots by ticket touts to stop sale of tickets at inflated prices," he tweeted yesterday.
The Bill also means that, on top of existing obligations, resale platforms will need to provide the unique ticket reference and booking number to potential buyers.
A spokesman for anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance was encouraged by the development. "In the last Parliament, there was some strong progress made on the issue of ticket touting, and we're obviously pleased that work will now start to implement Section 106 of the Digital Economy Act," he said.
"Criminalising the bulk-buying of tickets through specialised software should be a significant deterrent to some touts - however, it is not a complete solution. The priority to properly clean up this runaway market remains the proper enforcement of Consumer Law, and action against the Big Four resale sites when they fail to comply with it."
Earlier this week, the team behind Ed Sheeran's UK stadium tour revealed that 10,000 of the one million tickets sold had been cancelled after being found to have been bought illegally by known touts. They will be returned to the marketplace for purchase at face value via Twickets.