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Hackers Are Using Bots To Scoop Up Thousands Of Concert Tickets, Which Are Then Sold On Other Ticket Websites Marked Up At 100%, According to Some Sites; Senator Says Upcoming Amphitheater Could Be Next Hacker Target 

Schumer Introduces New Senate Bill That Finally Cracks Down On Hackers Being Able to Use Bots To Steal Popular Tickets Before True Fans Have A Chance To Purchase At Face Value

Schumer: Congress Needs To Pull Plug On Ticket Bots

Standing at the Carrier Dome Box Office in Syracuse, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today said cyber scalpers are using bots to scoop up thousands of popular concert tickets, to resell on other websites for outrageous prices. Schumer said that the recent incident involving cyber scalpers use online computer programs called bots to purchase thousands of tickets for Luke Bryan concert left thousands of fans in Syracuse and Upstate New York facing huge price increases. Therefore, Schumer is introducing legislation to crack down on bots, helping to fix the broken system of ticket purchasing.

“Hackers and other bad actors are taking advantage of fans and we need to put a stop to it. These bots have gotten completely out of control and are now threatening the entire live music industry as well as the ability of fans to purchase tickets at a fair price. That is why I am introducing legislation that would crack down on online hackers and scalpers that use bots to purchase thousands of tickets in a matter of 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 Luke Bryan in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices,” said Schumer.

Schumer explained that bots 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, 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 noted that Syracuse’s Carrier Dome and others have taken steps to ensure that bots have as little opportunity as possible to buy up tickets, including putting buyers in a “waiting room” and requiring human identification throughout the buying process. However, sophisticated hackers continue to adapt and cause problems for the ticketing industry.

Schumer said this scenario played out most recently in Syracuse, when Luke Bryan fans looking to purchase tickets for his show just this past weekend at the Carrier Dome were unable to do so because many of the tickets were sold out within weeks and then sold at astronomical prices. Many locals have suggested the culprit could be, once again, the use of bots to purchase all of the tickets and then sell them on secondary websites. According to a Syracuse Post Standard report from November 2015, fans were reportedly seeing tickets being sold on secondary websites at prices up to $750 – a 100 percent markup from the initial ticket prices of $75. Schumer also 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 this year. Schumer said each presents a prime opportunity for computer bots to strike.

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 quickly, 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 Western New York, bots bought up tickets for the October 2015 Paul McCartney concert at the First Niagara Center in just minutes as well, leaving fans frustrated and facing prices of nearly $8,000 on secondary websites. And in Rochester, Bruce Springsteen fans were left disappointed when bots bought up the tickets in a matter of minutes for his February show at the Rochester Blue Cross Arena; fans reportedly saw prices near $5,000 for tickets later on secondary ticket-selling websites.

As a result, Schumer is introducing 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 said violations of his legislation would be punishable with fines of up to $16,000 per violation, per day.  There is a bipartisan companion bill currently pending in the House of Representatives, called the Better On-line Ticket Sales Act of 2014, or the BOTS Act; Schumer is pushing colleagues in both houses to swiftly pass this legislation in order to increase fairness for consumers in the ticket-purchasing industry.

Schumer was joined by Peter Sala, Vice President and Chief Campus facilities officer at Syracuse University.

“As one of the leading entertainment venues in Central New York, the Carrier Dome attracts many of the world’s most popular musical acts,” says Peter Sala, vice president and chief campus facilities officer at Syracuse University. “We work hard to keep ticket prices affordable for Central New Yorkers, but the growth of 'bots' is a challenge to our efforts. Senator Schumer’s leadership on this important issue will enable area residents, regardless of economic status, to experience premier concerts without having to spend a small fortune. We applaud the Senator and look forward to seeing this legislation advance in Congress.”

Venues and companies like the Carrier Dome and Ticketmaster, whose parent company is Live Nation Entertainment, have 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 explained that many ticket-reselling companies are also hurt by bots, as frustrated consumers are often directed to their websites to purchase tickets from the online scalpers at overly inflated prices. In fact, in a 2012 post by Ticketmaster, the company stated that bots “hammer our system and website, they substantially increase our technology costs, they anger our customers and they keep us from building a direct relationship with fans.” Therefore, Schumer said his legislation would help crack down on this practice, which hurts both concertgoers and ticket companies, and he will be pushing his colleagues in Congress to pass this legislation without delay.