Members of British Parliament led by Scottish politician Douglas Chapman are currently working to introduce a bill that would ban or limit gaming console and computer component scalping, according to new quotes from Wired and IGN.
This would be the latest in Chapman’s attempts to undermine scalpers, the first being an Early Day Motion (which would call on Parliament to debate the issue) he proposed back in December. Despite being signed on by 32 members, the motion was tabled on December 14th, 2020. Now, to force Parliament to discuss scalping sooner, Chapman is preparing to introduce a bill on the subject.
“The issue of scalping first came up with constituents contacting me to explain their frustration about being unable to get hold of certain games consoles or computer components pre-Christmas,” Chapman told IGN, explaining his connection to the issue. “On investigation, we uncovered more details of the unscrupulous practice of 'scalping' by automated bots to bulk buy these goods and sell them on at inflated prices."
Chapman also sent a statement to both Wired and IGN, which expresses the MP’s concern that scalping could soon spread beyond enthusiast spaces like gaming. ‘“Given that experts in the cyber industry now predict the issue of scalping to grow across other important goods and services this year, we are looking at presenting a bill in Parliament on this matter so that we can further explore legislative options to protect consumers from this unfair practice."
The MP’s office has yet to go into further detail on the bill’s support from other MPs or when it would be formally introduced.
It’s possible, however, that the bill might face more opposition from logistics than from Parliament itself. Regulating scalping runs the risk of fostering government overreach into the acquisition and resale of private property, which limits what exactly Parliament can do to enforce a scalping ban. Even more limited intervention, like setting price maximums on sites like eBay, runs the risk of just forcing scalpers into less-regulated spaces like Craigslist or private forums.
Still, as we wrote about back in December, the scalping situation has gotten bad enough for cyber vigilantes to start popping up on resale sites, seeking to do what websites and governments won’tm by attempting to scam scalpers back. Whatever form it takes, it’s clear that some regulation would likely be welcomed by many consumers.