UK politicians call for "making the resale of goods purchased using an automated bot an illegal activity"

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(Image credit: Future)

Six Scottish National Party (SNP) politicians have put forward a motion for consideration in UK Parliament to prohibit the resale of games consoles and PC components at prices "greatly above" MSRP, and the resale of goods purchased using automated bots to be made illegal in these fair isles.

A motion on the "Resale of gaming consoles and computer components purchases by automated bots" (via VGC) has been tabled with UK Parliament, and it aims to outlaw resellers' usage of automated bots and make it difficult to sell in-demand tech at prices far exceeding the manufacturer's recommend retail price. 

The motion has no set date for debate in the Commons, and is what is known as an 'Early Day Motion'. These don't often receive much love in Parliament, often due to the sheer number of Early Day Motions going at any one time, but they are used to highlight specific issues present in society. That's hardly indicative of sweeping change in the near-future, but it's better than nothing. 

Perhaps some MPs are just sick of trying to track down a PlayStation 5 or Nvidia's RTX 3080. We've all got better things to be doing than be stuck watching tracker sites, that's for sure.

The motion in its entirety is as follows:

"That this House believes that new releases of gaming consoles and computer components should be available to all customers at no more than the Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Price, and not be bought in bulk by the use of automated bots which often circumvent maximum purchase quantities imposed by the retailer; calls on the Government to bring forward legislative proposals similar to those introduced for the secondary selling of tickets, thereby prohibiting the resale of gaming consoles and computer components at prices greatly above Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Price and furthermore this House; and further calls on the Government to bring forward legislative proposals making the resale of goods purchased using an automated bot an illegal activity, thereby denying unscrupulous vendors the chance to make themselves vast profits at the expense of genuine gamers and computer users, while also deterring fraudulent cybercriminal activity."

So far 15 Members of Parliament have signed the motion, which is led by SNP MP Douglas Chapman of Dunfermline and West Fife. Those joining the six original SNP politicians include: seven further SNP MPs, one independent MP, and a single Labour MP. No Conservatives, the ruling majority in the UK right now, have signed up as yet, maybe they've already got what they wanted for Christmas.

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Such a move to ban resale of in-demand products is not without some precedent, either. As the motion states, it's illegal to sell tickets to gigs, shows, or events second-hand. A deterrent to stop this very same situation in the entertainment industry.

An outright ban such as that for the PC component and console market may have further implications for the second-hand market, however, something which is near and dear to many PC builders. There's certainly a fine line between helpful and damaging when approaching reseller restrictions.

Nvidia RTX 3080 and RTX 3090

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No doubt this motion comes as a reaction to recent rough waters for those hoping to get their hands on the latest tech, especially leading into the busiest buying season of the year. For us PC gamers, it's been largely been a lack of Nvidia's RTX 3080 and AMD's RX 6800 XT that has ruffled feathers, but the problem spans far and wide for popular products. Most notably, perhaps, is the lack of PlayStation 5 stock.

The root cause of a low-stock situation can hardly be chalked up to resellers alone, but they have certainly served to compound the lack of availability. Bots especially have caused grief at the checkout, with even Nvidia admitting that its RTX 3080 store page was "overrun by malicious bots". Meanwhile Newegg, seemingly without hyperbole, claimed its store batted away "tens of millions" of bots that same day.

Tens of millions.

It's been a tricky year for tech buying (among other things) and high demand for the latest components has put a significant strain on the supply chains of all involved. Not to mention these supply chains were often not quite up to full bore following the disruption caused by COVID-19. High demand, with an often constrained supply chain, has led to a situation that has become something of an apparent gold rush for resellers able to take advantage. 

Granted, launch day stock can often be slim for the latest tech, and we are certainly used to seeing similar trends around major launches, but you needn't look far to see why 2020 has all the makings of a resellers' market. Here's hoping even a minor motion such as this can help shed some light on the situation with the powers that be.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would later go on to win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top team as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. He also enjoys making short videos for TikTok and believes everyone reading this should go follow our account immediately.