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UK Parliament Members to Propose Bill to Ban Scalping

House of Parliament
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

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.

  • caseym54
    Tax the markup at 200%.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    That's the burning question. "How do you regulate resale?" And even if you can make such a law, who's going to actually convict those people?
    Reply
  • Heat_Fan89
    And a lot if not all of the retailer's websites that BOTS are making purchases from are not using any sort of anti-cheat such as Captcha. In order to make a purchase on Sony's website you first have to clear the Captcha. In the US every major website such as Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, Target etc doesn't use Anti-Bot software.
    Reply
  • sizzling
    Heat_Fan89 said:
    And a lot if not all of the retailer's websites that BOTS are making purchases from are not using any sort of anti-cheat such as Captcha. In order to make a purchase on Sony's website you first have to clear the Captcha. In the US every major website such as Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, Target etc don't employ Anti-Bot software.

    I thought those safeguards were useless against the bots these days?
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    Heat_Fan89 said:
    And a lot if not all of the retailer's websites that BOTS are making purchases from are not using any sort of anti-cheat such as Captcha. In order to make a purchase on Sony's website you first have to clear the Captcha. In the US every major website such as Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, Target etc doesn't use Anti-Bot software.
    Best Buy does have anti bot processes in place. That's how I was able to land a 3070 from them on launch day without the help of any bot.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    caseym54 said:
    Tax the markup at 200%.
    Markup on what?

    I have some vintage electronics that would sell for more than the original purchase price.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    USAFRet said:
    Markup on what?

    I have some vintage electronics that would sell for more than the original purchase price.
    Wouldn't be that complicated to limit this to products that have been released within the last year or something. This issue affects so few product categories that they could probably list all the ones it applies to in the law.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    spongiemaster said:
    Wouldn't be that complicated to limit this to products that have been released within the last year or something. This issue affects so few product categories that they could probably list all the ones it applies to in the law.
    For the sufficiently motivated, there is always a workaround.

    How does the UK govt apply a penalty tax to an entity that sells from <Not UK>.
    Reply
  • anonymousdude
    spongiemaster said:
    Wouldn't be that complicated to limit this to products that have been released within the last year or something. This issue affects so few product categories that they could probably list all the ones it applies to in the law.

    Unfortunately, it's not as easy as it sounds. Making a law too specific makes it easier to workaround in some ways. So for the sake of argument let's say the law specifically bans scalping of GPUs. Well it would be as easy as selling the GPU in a bundle and claiming the markup is on the other item. Say they said all PC components. Slap whatever part into a cheap pre-built and sell that. It just goes on and on. Taxes, penalties, fines, etc aren't going discourage the sufficiently motivated. There's too much easy money to be made.

    I hate to state the obvious, but the only way you combat scalpers is with supply. What are you gonna do there? Force a company to stockpile product before launch?
    Reply
  • Jim90
    USAFRet said:
    Markup on what?

    I have some vintage electronics that would sell for more than the original purchase price.

    We're only talking about (relatively) newly released products. Getting an always-current, validated a list of item selling prices won't be a problem (link to manufacturers live pricing). Tie this to the release date and expected/average 3rd party mark-up, and you have all you need to determine if a seller is marking up excessively.

    Quite simply, if you can browse and instantly identify scalping then you can put that down in code. The vast majority of scalping can very easily be tackled but that requires a willingness to work together.
    Reply