British Parliament Considering Bulk Console Resale Ban

On Monday, the British Parliament heard a proposed “Early Day Motion” to curb the resale of video game consoles obtained in bulk using automated bots.

VGC reported that six MPs of the Scottish National Party put forth the motion, asking for legislation to prohibit “resale of gaming consoles and computer components at prices greatly above Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Price.” At the time of this writing, a total of 26 MPs have signed on in support of the motion, the bulk of which are from the Scottish National Party. The motion appears to have been originally written by one Douglas Chapman, MP for Dunfermline and West Fife.

Early Day Motions are intended to bring issues to Parliament’s attention which require a certain degree of urgency. The text of this particular motion echoes that of similar laws currently on the books regarding ticket scalping for football matches. Concert scalping isn’t illegal in the UK, but resellers are legally obligated to be transparent about purchase price and other fine print details. Football scalping, on the other hand, is illegal unless it has been expressly approved by the football club. Reselling football match tickets without the club’s consent can lead to the scalper being banned from the stadium.

Food For Thought

From a technical perspective, this particular legislation doesn’t do much. There’s always an arms race between vendors and botnets, so the threat of legal sanctions for scalpers won’t generate much concern, since the effort to modify the bots in order to stay on the right side of the law will be minimal. And there’s nothing to stop scalpers from creating something similar to a “boiler room” of individuals who make digital orders for consoles and then arrange to turn them over for resale.

The VGC article got a comment from one scalping group who tried to justify their actions, stating the members of the group were individuals furloughed from other jobs and were able make enough money to pay bills and feed their families. It, however, could not verify those facts.

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