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What are Grinch Bots?

Answer: Bots that buy things online before humans can.

This Black Friday, a group of U.S. senators announced a proposed bill aimed at preventing the use of what they are calling “Grinch Bots.” These bots are used by resellers, particularly during the holiday shopping season, to purchase popular items online. They can often buy out an entire inventory before any humans get a chance to place an order. The items are then resold at inflated prices.

The Stopping Grinch Bots Act would prohibit the use of bots for online shopping, as well as the reselling of any items purchased by bots. The bill would not prevent the use of bots for security purposes, such as researchers who probe retail sites for vulnerabilities.

Kate is a senior copy editor in Northern California. She holds a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in professional writing from the University of California, Davis.