Democratic politicians in US have introduced a new bill called the Stopping Grind Bots Act, that would ban the use of bots to scalp toys and electronics. The bill's name is a reference to the Dr. Suess story "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" which depicts a mean character called the Grinch who steals all the toys and food from the nearby town just before Christmas.
The bill is sponsored by Democratic representative Paul Tonko of NY, Democractic representative Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Senator Majority Leader Charles Shumer of New York, and Democratic Senator Ben Ray of New Mexico.
“This bill seeks to stop Cyber Grinch greed from ruining kids’ holidays,” said Blumenthal in a press release. “New tools are needed to block cyber scammers who snap up supplies of popular toys and resell them at astronomic prices. Price gouging hot toys by Grinch bots should have zero tolerance.”
Shumer also chimed in, saying: "The average holiday shopper is unable to compete with the light speed of the all-too-common Grinch bot and are then held at ransom by scalpers and third-party resellers when trying to buy holiday presents. After a particularly trying year, no parent or American should have to fork over hundreds - or even thousands - of dollars to buy Christmas and holiday gifts for their children and loved ones. It is of upmost importance that these Grinch bots are thwarted in their attempts to steal Christmas - and money - from hardworking Americans.”
A similar bill was introduced by Democratic representatives in 2019, but ultimately didn't reach a congressional vote.
The announcement of the new proposed bill comes after a year filled with scalping in the PC gaming market. Everything from consoles, to Nvidia graphics cards, to Razer Zephyr masks have been snapped up almost instantly by bots. The goods are typically resold on third-party markets like Ebay at large markups, or alternatively used to mine cryptocurrency. In either case, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to get high demand goods, especially given the limited stock of physical stores during the ongoing global supply shortage.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.