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UK politician's effort to outlaw PC component reselling gains steam

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A UK politician has presented a Bill to the UK Government calling for the practice of buying and reselling tech for far greater than MSRP, often referred to as 'scalping', to be punishable by law.

Following an Early Day Motion last year on "making the resale of goods purchased using an automated bot an illegal activity", a Bill has been put forward by the motion's leader, Douglas Chapman MP for Dunfermline and West Fife. This would further press the government into responding, or at least take notice, and can generally be considered a step towards a more formal debate on the matter.

As Sky News reports, Chapman has put forward a private member's bill titled the Gaming Hardware (Automated Purchase and Resale) Bill 2019-21.

Speaking with IGN prior to the formal submission of the bill, Chapman says: "Given that experts in the cyber industry now predict the issue of scalping to grow across other important goods and services this year, we are looking at presenting a Bill in Parliament so that we can further explore legislative options to protect consumers from this unfair practice."

Chapman says that the issue was raised to him via his county constituents, who were apparently frustrated with the lack of availability for games consoles. Although further investigation uncovered the larger issue facing tech buyers today.

"On investigation we uncovered more details of the unscrupulous practice of ‘scalping’ by automated bots to bulk buy these goods and sell them on at inflated prices," Chapman says.

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It's a problem that PC gamers have no doubt run into with the latest Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, and some high-demand CPUs. While launches for the latest tech can be sparsely stocked at first, the issue of bots and resellers has compounded a greater issue of supply. Nvidia and AMD both expect stock to return to something close to normality later in the year—as early as May for Nvidia but not until the second half of the year for AMD.

While any future regulation, should it come about, would likely only protect PC gamers from these practices with later generations of tech, there is at least precedent for such legislation to come into force. The UK has previously outlawed the reselling of gig, show, and other entertainment tickets for profit, to prevent such a market from running wild.

Chapman does, however, note that such a bill becoming law is unlikely.

I also have some reservations to the ramifications of such a ban, if one were to come around, if not properly policed. Any such measures must be properly curtailed as to not affect the market in not-so-ideal ways—the second-hand market springs to mind, which remains a great asset to PC gaming. But surely any such ban on reselling would help prevent malicious practices for profit, and that's bound to do some good, right?

Jacob Ridley

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.