WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan seeking answers on how the FTC is implementing their bipartisian legislation, the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, to prevent ticket scalpers from using bots on online ticketing websites to resell tickets at inflated prices. This letter comes after a series of high-profile incidents in which fans were outpriced by ticket scalpers and unable to purchase tickets on online ticketing websites.
Federal Trade Commission Comes Under Scrutiny Following Taylor Swift Ticketing Disaster
Senators are requesting info from FTC chair Lina Khan on enforcement efforts against illegal bots after billions are said to have infiltrated the Eras Tour presale.
Just a week after Ticketmaster’s disastrous presale for Taylor Swift‘s The Eras Tour, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are asking the chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) how the agency plans to combat bots in the online ticketing marketplace.
In a letter sent Monday (Nov. 28), Sens. Blumenthal and Blackburn — chair and ranking member of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, respectively — are requesting information from FTC chair Lina Khan about what steps the FTC is taking to enforce the 2016 law known as the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, which was designed to crack down on the kind of illegal bots that have plagued online ticket sales for recent tours by Swift and other major stars.
That law, which “prohibits the circumvention of a security measure, access control system, or other technological control measure used online by a ticket issuer” and the sale of tickets knowingly obtained through those means, grants the FTC and state attorneys general the authority to enforce violations, according to the letter. But since the BOTS Act became law, Blumenthal and Blackburn claim the FTC has taken only a single enforcement action despite numerous incidents involving the use of bots in online ticket sales.
“Given the numerous high-profile incidents in the online ticket marketplace, it would be helpful to understand how the FTC intends to act to address such conduct going forward,” the letter reads.
Monday’s letter follows Ticketmaster’s earlier claim that the Swift debacle was caused in part by tens of millions of uninvited users and billions of bots crashing the Eras presale, forcing the company to shut down the tour’s final onsale after more than 90% of ticketing inventory was snapped up. …
In addition to the Swift debacle, in the letter Blumenthal and Blackburn point to various other recent online ticketing mishaps involving bots, including tours for Bob Dylan, Blake Shelton, Bruce Springsteen and Adele.
“While bots may not be the only reason for these problems, which Congress is evaluating, fighting bots is an important step in reducing consumer costs in the online ticketing industry,” the senators continued. They point out that the infiltration of bots, among other factors, creates an unfair environment that prevents regular fans from purchasing tickets, forcing them to resort to secondary sites where tickets are often marked up dramatically. “Some reports have found secondary ticket sales ranging from $1,000 (Bruce Springsteen) to $40,000 (Adele),” the lawmakers added. …
In addition to asking whether the FTC has any “pending enforcement matters before it” with respect to the BOTS Act, Blumenthal and Blackburn are asking why only a single enforcement action has been taken to date; whether there are “obstacles preventing” the FTC from enforcing the law; and whether there are “other solutions that Congress needs to consider” to prevent bots from operating in the future.
- Click here to read the full letter Senators Blackburn and Blumenthal sent to the FTC.
- Click here to watch Senator Blackburn’s video on the BOTS Act.