WASHINGTON – On Black Friday, a group of Democratic lawmakers wanted to stop “Grinch bots” from scooping up all the inventory of the year’s hottest Christmas presents.
“Grinch bots cannot be allowed to steal Christmas, or dollars, from the wallets of countless consumers,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “Middle class folks save up — a little here, a little there — working to afford the hottest gifts of the season for their kids but ever-changing technology and its challenges are making that very difficult. It’s time we help restore an even playing field by blocking the bots.”
The New York Democrat was one of the three senators who announced new legislation that seeks to block third-party systems from gaming the online sales systems of major retailers to buy out inventory and then resell it at a much elevated price point.
The proposal, a renewal of an effort led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is akin to past Senate battles over the use of bots to buy up inventory of tickets for concerts and major sporting events.
“We successfully banned ticket bots and we can use that same strategy to banish toy bots once and for all — putting consumers back in charge,” Blumenthal said in a statement.
New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall joined Blumenthal and Schumer in the latest effort, which includes a legislative push and an effort to encourage major retailers to self-police the bots.