Politics

Chuck Schumer and Fellow Democrats Want to Stop ‘Grinch Bots’ From Stealing Christmas Toys

Latest effort with Sen. Richard Blumenthal and others seeks to curtail gift-buying bots

Democrats Want to Stop “Grinch Bots’ from stealing Christmas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On Black Friday, a group of Democratic lawmakers want to stop “Grinch bots” from scooping up all the inventory of the year’s hottest Christmas presents.

“Grinch bots cannot be allowed to steal Christmas, or dollars, from the wallets of countless consumers,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a statement. “Middle class folks save up — a little here, a little there — working to afford the hottest gifts of the season for their kids but ever-changing technology and its challenges are making that very difficult. It’s time we help restore an even playing field by blocking the bots.”

The Democrat from New York was one of the three senators announcing new legislation that seeks to block third-party systems from gaming the online sales systems of major retailers to buy out inventory and then re-sell it at a much elevated price points.

The proposal, a renewal of an effort led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is akin to the past Senate battles over the use of bots to buy up inventory of ticket inventory for concerts and major sporting events.

“Grinch bots are stealing the holidays by snatching up hot toys, driving up prices, and leaving parents empty handed on Christmas morning. We successfully banned ticket bots and we can use that same strategy to banish toy bots once and for all — putting consumers back in charge,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall joined Blumenthal and Schumer in the latest effort, which includes a legislative push and an effort to encourage major retailers to self-police the bots.

“Letting these grinch bots continue to rig the retail market and squeeze consumers doesn’t just hurt families during the holidays, it hurts small business owners, entrepreneurs, innovative product creators and all legitimate retailers throughout the year,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat from New York who announced he was introducing a House companion.

Watch: A Year with Roll Call ‘At the Table’

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.