Ban on ticket rip-off

NSW to out­law ‘bots’

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - JOHN ROLFE

SOFT­WARE used by scalpers to snap up the best seats at big con­certs and sports events, forc­ing gen­uine fans to pay huge mark-ups for tick­ets, is to be banned.

So-called “bots”, which run sim­ple, repet­i­tive tasks over the in­ter­net many times faster than hu­mans, will be out­lawed by the state gov­ern­ment.

Bots are sus­pected of plun­der­ing $30 Syd­ney Ashes Test tick­ets, which have been listed for re­sale at more than $1500. Con­sumer group Choice has also un­cov­ered mark-ups of 500 per cent on tick­ets to see Justin Bieber.

In an at­tempt to end such rorts, Fair Trad­ing Min­is­ter Matt Kean is cre­at­ing a new pro­vi­sion pro­hibit­ing the use of soft­ware that cir­cum­vents the se­cu­rity fea­tures of tick­et­selling web­sites.

“I’m sick of see­ing or­di­nary fans be­ing pushed out of the mar­ket by ticket bots,” Mr Kean said. “This tech­nol­ogy tar­gets pri­mary ticket-sell­ing web­sites to sweep up thou­sands of tick­ets in a mat­ter of min­utes. Mean­while, real fans are be­ing left high and dry.”

Mak­ing bot tech­nol­ogy il­le­gal for the first time in Aus­tralia would al­low le­git­i­mate agen­cies such as Tick­etek to seek court in­junc­tions against scalpers.

Bots ac­count for as much as 30 per cent of the traf­fic to pri­mary tick­et­ing sites in the mo­ments af­ter a ma­jor event goes on sale.

While some of the ac­tiv­ity is from over­seas, much of it orig­i­nates in Aus­tralia. It is that ac­tiv­ity which could be tar­geted un­der a new pro­vi­sion in the state’s Fair Trad­ing Act.

“Bot at­tacks are a global prob­lem for the tick­et­ing in­dus­try that amount to a kind of tech­nol­ogy war­fare,” Tick­etek boss Cameron Hoy said.

It is un­der­stood Mr Kean will also seek to put a 10 per cent mark-up cap on resold tick­ets, although he would not con­firm this yes­ter­day.

Queens­land al­ready has such a limit. Sell­ers face fines of as much as $2400, while buy­ers can be pinged $600.

Bots were banned in the US in 2016 af­ter au­thor­i­ties found they had been used to snap up hun­dreds of One Di­rec­tion tick­ets for $US101, which were then listed for re­sale for as much as $7244. Ed Sheeran tick­ets bought for $US64 were ad­ver­tised for up to $US1404.

Choice spokesman Tom God­frey said the NSW ban would help to force re­sellers to clean up their act.

“While bots laws and other re­forms will go part of the way to stamp­ing out shady ticket scalpers, more work will be needed to fix this dodgy in­dus­try,” he said.

Among the changes Choice seeks is for ticket com­pa­nies to in­vest in bet­ter sys­tems to re­duce fraud and sell to real fans, not scalpers.

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