A fundamental misunderstanding of the internet

The Australian state government of New South Wales are planning legislation to ban automated software that can rapidly buy multiple tickets for events such as concerts.

At first blush, this would seem a great win for the consumer. Which is presumably why it was announced (not the “great win” part, but the “it would seem” bit).

Why such scepticism here?

Firstly, let’s examine how such legislation might be drafted. It would need to;

  • Define the software by the function it performs.
  • Define the owner or user or beneficiary of the software.
  • Define the operating jurisdiction of the legislation.
  • Explain how to police the legislation for software running from another country (over a VPN, for example) or even another Australian state.
  • Explain how to identify and prosecute the owner of the software.
  • Define when the crime is committed; after just one ticket is bought?

As the title of this post infers, the legislation required for the banning of “bots” suggests the proposer has very little idea of how the internet works.

In addition, it’s yet another government solution where the market could be quite capable of resolving the issue;

If the artists and event organisers really wanted to prevent secondary sales of their tickets, they have many options available to deploy such as using pre-confirmed registered users on a website or ticket collection at the event with a standard form of identification.

Also, consider the consumer; plenty of people are clearly currently happy to pay above face value for tickets. The event organisers are missing a trick here; why not run the ticket sales process as a time-limited auction? This is, in effect, what the”scalpers” are doing and are taking the risk that they won’t sell all the tickets.

Bill’s Opinion

If you really want to fuck something up in a truly expensive and ineffective way, ask a government employee to implement a solution that nobody asked for.

4 Replies to “A fundamental misunderstanding of the internet”

  1. The government must do something. This is something. Therefore they must do it.

    Add the need to spend other people’s money, before they ask for it back.

    1. I always wonder who advises them with this type of thing?

      The outcome they want to deliver is no secondary sales of tickets. So why not simply ban resales by anyone other than the ticket-issuing agency?

      The agencies will then set up an auction site for people to flog unwanted tickets.

  2. To me it seems like the market working in the interests of all, except for some people who think they own the market or need a special deal because of their victim status.

    Banning ‘bots’ from buying on the internet seems like a stupid solution, but I think any legislative response is dumb.

    I wonder who is actually asking for this, and why they need it?

    Is it the ticket sellers themselves? Are they missing on margin because of scalpers? They could come up with their own solution, if so. Presumably they could make a change to their websites that makes it difficult for a bot to buy. Could try harder here.

    Is it ticket buyers? Feeling sorry that they are overpaying? No one is forcing them to buy the tickets from scalpers. Perhaps that Justin Bieber experience is not as life defining as you might otherwise hope.

    But there is a large dose of “who gives” about this. It is a high quality first world problem either way, that legislators could just leave alone. Bearing in mind that they couldn’t stop Uber from ridesharing/trading illegally, so selling tickets on a likely internet based secondary market seems like a challenge beyond them.

    1. I’m with you. I’m of the opinion that there should be a “1 in, 2 out” rule for creating new laws; want to write a new one? Good, which two are you getting rid off then?

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