The UK Government is set to discuss new legislation in parliament this week that prohibits touts from buying tickets en masse via bots to resell at a profit.

Through the addition to the Digital Economy Act, which became law in 2017, those that employ automated software to harvest tickets will face unlimited fines.

The action of buying tickets in bulk will be a new criminal offence and will bypass any limits on maximum ticket purchases set by event organisers.

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher, said: “This new law is an important step to ensure transparency in the resale ticket market.

“We need the law to be fully enforced to protect music fans from being ripped off. We also need much stronger action from Google, which is still directing fans to sites like Viagogo at the top of an online search, rather than to official ticketing.

“Music fans have been fleeced for far too long and we will continue to work with Government to ensure our fantastic live music industry continues to bring enjoyment to millions of people and to make over a £1bn annual contribution to the UK economy.”

The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James, said that she is “determined” to put fairly priced tickets in the hands of true fans.

She said: “This week we will reach the final stage in our fight to beat rip-off ticket touts using bots to buy huge numbers of tickets only to sell them on at massively over-inflated prices.

“Our work, together with improvements by industry, will give consumers greater protection, make the market more transparent and help Britain’s live events scene continue to thrive.”

In November, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK’s competition regulator, said it is to take enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection law after the completion of an investigation into the sector.

The CMA said it gathered evidence, which it considers reveals breaches of the law, and identified “widespread concerns” about the information consumers are given.

Consumer Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Fans have a right to know exactly what they’re signing up to on ticket resale websites, but all too often people are left feeling ripped off when the ticket doesn’t match expectations.

“We’re taking steps to crack down on touts using ‘bots’ to bulk buy tickets for resale and last week’s new rules will also improve transparency in this market.”

Viagogo and StubHub had their offices raided, by the National Trading Standards, which has been working with the CMA, as part of the investigation.

Adam Webb, campaign manager of anti-touting pressure group FanFair Alliance, said: “This new legislation is important, and we need it to be activated and enforced.

“By reducing the means of dedicated touts to bulk harvest tickets, Government can help recalibrate the live music market and give fans a better opportunity to buy tickets at a price the artist sets.”

Image: Anna Hanks