Technology companies often raise new questions for regulators, especially if they present a tool where no laws seem to exist. Lack of regulation has been an ongoing controversy when it comes to bots that act as online ticket "scalpers," which are programmed to buy up tickets to popular events and sell them at inflated prices. Lawmakers in Alberta have passed a new business law to put a stop to these often contested programs.
The new law is in response to complaints from the public. According to the Alberta government, many people told their representatives not attend popular shows and sports events due to tickets being snatched up by these automated programs. While ticket reselling will still be legal in the province, resellers will need to take steps to avoid selling any ticket purchased by a bot.
Major ticket selling websites, such as Ticketmaster, do have programs in place to prevent bots from buying up tickets. However, they previously have lacked legal support in their attempts to block programs from making purchases. These ticket sellers have lauded the new laws, saying they will help consumers and keep the ticket marketplace fair.
Under the new business law, Alberta resellers caught using bots in their operations could face fines up to $300,000 or a jail sentence of up to two years. Consumers will also have a right to sue resellers if they miss a show or lose money due to a purchase facilitated in any way by a computer program. Those who are interested in bringing such a legal action or who are facing consequences under laws like this should contact a lawyer to understand options and next steps.