10.22.15

SCHUMER: LAKESIDE AMPHITHEATER COULD BE NEXT HACKER TARGET & MUST BE ON HIGH ALERT FOR COMPUTER BOTS THAT RAPIDLY VACUUM UP TICKETS AND RE-SELL THEM AT OUTRAGEOUS PRICES; SCHUMER PUSHES CONGRESS TO PASS NEW SENATE BILL THAT CRACKS DOWN ON UNFAIR CYBER-SCALPING

Hackers Are Using Computer Bots To Snatch-up Thousands Of Concert Tickets Immediately After They Go On Sale, Which They Then Re-Sell On Other Ticket Websites At Much Higher Prices; Schumer Says Live Nation, New Promoter For The Lakeview Amphitheater In Onondaga County, Supports Bill To Prevent Venue From Being Next Site of Major Concert Ruined By Bots

Schumer Says Feds Must Crack Down On Cyber-Scalpers, Introduced Legislation That Would Institute Harsh Punishments For Hackers Found Guilty Of Bot Ticket Scalping; Legislation Came After Paul McCartney Show in Buffalo And Rolling Stones Tickets Were Bought Up And Re-Sold For As Much As $8,000

Schumer: Congress Needs To Pull Plug On Ticket Bots Used To Scarf-up Popular Concerts Tickets Before True Fans Have A Chance To Even Turn On Their Computers 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged his colleagues in Congress to pass the Better On-line Ticket Sales Act of 2014, or the BOTS Act, in order to increase fairness for consumers in the ticket-purchasing industry. Schumer said that with Live Nation selected as the new promoter of the Lakeside Amphitheater in Onondaga County, its new venue will be the site of many popular concerts and events in the Central NY region. However, this could also make it a prime target for cyber-scalpers using bots to buy up thousands of popular concert tickets and resell them at much higher prices. Schumer said there have been recent incidents involving cyber-scalpers using computer programs, called “bots,” to purchase concert tickets once they go on sale and resell them to the highest bidder in New York State, including the Paul McCartney concert in Buffalo. Schumer said this practice is unfair to true fans and, therefore, pushed his colleagues to pass his legislation, which would crack down on the use of bots and help fix the broken system of ticket purchasing.

“Cyber-scalpers and other bad actors are using technology, like ‘bots’ that instantaneously snatch up piles of concert tickets and then sell them on other sites at outrageous prices – they are taking advantage of real fans and we need to put a stop to it. These bots have gotten completely out of control and are a threat to the entire live music industry – including venues like Syracuse’s Lakeside Amphitheater. That is why I am pushing my colleagues to pass legislation that would crack down on online hackers and scalpers that use bots to purchase thousands of tickets in a matter of micro-seconds, and then sell them at overly inflated and ridiculous prices to consumers. By eliminating bots and slapping hackers with a hefty fine, we can better ensure those who want to attend shows like promoted by Live Nation in Central New York in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices,” said Schumer

Schumer explained that there has recently been an increase in reports of “bots,” which are sophisticated computer programs often used by nefarious scalpers and brokers that plague the online sale of concert tickets. According to a 2013 New York Times report, while bots were once merely a nuisance to the live music industry, they have now become arguably its most reviled foe, as they are able to snatch up popular tickets within a matter of seconds, leaving fans with no choice but to buy tickets through derivative sites at much higher prices. Schumer said this practice leaves frustrated fans ticket-less and drives a resultant secondary ticket sale market, where tickets are sold at astronomical prices that most fans cannot afford.

Schumer said that places like the Lakeside Amphitheater in Syracuse could be prime targets for hackers using bots, as Live Nation, the theater’s new promoter, expects to book as many as 25 acts in the next year. Schumer said each presents a prime opportunity for computer bots to strike. Bots recently struck Western New York when Paul McCartney fans tried to purchase tickets for his October 22 show at the First Niagara Center when they first went on sale in August. However, they were unable to do so because all the tickets were sold out within minutes. In a Buffalo News report from August 31, it was confirmed the culprit was, once again, the use of bots to purchase all of the tickets and then sell them on secondary websites. Fans later reported of tickets being sold on secondary websites at prices up to $8,000. Bots also bought up tickets in 11 minutes for the Smashing Pumpkins at the Riviera Theatre this past June; it took bots 17 minutes to buy up the tickets for a Disturbed show coming to Rapids Theatre in April. 

Schumer said there is no fair way for a fan to purchase a ticket online if they have to compete with bots that are capable of auto-dialing and purchasing tickets in the matter of seconds, jamming up the online ticketing system, and thereby leaving an unfair playing field for fans looking to purchase seats to an event or concert at the face value price. In September 2015, Schumer visited First Niagara Center in Buffalo to unveil legislation that would prohibit the unfair and deceptive act of using software, including bots, for the purposes of circumventing measures used by online ticket sellers to ensure concertgoers are given a fair chance to buy tickets. Schumer said this legislation would help ensure consumers are given equitable access to tickets for events in the future and are not precluded from purchasing tickets at a fair price. Schumer is therefore pushing his colleagues in the Senate to pass a bipartisan House of Representatives bill, called the Better On-line Ticket Sales Act of 2014, or the BOTS Act, in order to increase fairness for consumers in the ticket-purchasing industry. 

Live Nation is a supporter of Schumer’s legislation and the parent company of First Niagara Center and Ticket Master. It has led the charge against the bots used by online hackers and scalpers in an attempt to improve the ticket-buying experience for customers and guarantee increased transparency for fans. Schumer said Live Nation has helped deter bots, but the threat still remains. As such, Schumer urged Live Nation to be on alert for bots when tickets for the Lakeside Amphitheater 2016 schedule go on-sale. Schumer said any suspicious mass ticket purchases should be reported so the offenders can be investigated properly. In the meantime, Schumer called on his colleagues to pass his legislation so ticket vendors can crack down on cyber scalpers and end the practice.

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