Ticket abuse committee calls for ban on digital 'harvesting' software

Ticket abuse committee calls for ban on digital 'harvesting' software

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has written to culture secretary Karen Bradley to raise its concerns about the operation of the event ticketing market following last week’s evidence session on ticket abuse.

Executives from StubHub, Ticketmaster and eBay were quizzed on company practice during the three-hour meeting inside the House Of Commons. Tempers frayed as Paul Peak (head of legal, Europe StubHub) and Ticketmaster UK chairman Chris Edmonds provided answers MPs deemed unsatisfactory to questions about transparency and security checking of their users. 

The committee, whose letter to the culture secretary can be read in full here, considered that the evidence collated highlighted “inappropriately close relationships” between those selling tickets on the primary market and the resellers on the secondary market - and has now called for an HMRC investigation. 

"The answers we got from witnesses representing the ticket sellers and resellers went from complacent to evasive,” said committee chairman Damian Collins. “Their failure to provide the most basic assurances about what they’re doing to tackle known large scale touts and fraudsters operating on their own sites - we had an example on screen in front of a Member in the session - have led us to believe there may be much bigger problems in this market than we originally thought.” 

The committee is tabling an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill to ban the use of ‘bots’ and software which enable ticket touts to purchase excessive numbers of tickets. This will be debated on Monday, November 28. 

“We are writing to the Secretary of State to ask her to begin to look more closely at this issue but also as a first step that there seems to be a lot of consensus on amending the Digital Economy Bill to ban the technology that harvests tickets on a large scale before genuine fans ever get a look in,” added Collins.

The Competition And Markets Authority is due to report on whether ticket companies are complying with consumer law, and given their performance at our evidence session we await this with interest. In the meantime, we heard strong evidence indicating there is a significant level of under-reporting of income by known touts trading on secondary sites and we believe this is another aspect of this that warrants investigation, by HMRC."

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