Geoblocking: Less consumer discrimination online

Many consumers in the EU cannot enjoy certain products or services because of Geoblocking. The European Commission wants to give them wider access but doesn't create an "obligation to deliver" for retailers.

How did we get here?

We live in a single market where people and especially goods are supposed to move freely. Yet, sometimes this doesn't work. For example, when you want to buy something online from another country or you want to book a rental car from abroad. The most common problems are:

 

Why is this important for me?

You get access to more products! Meaning a greater variety and wider availability of goods, services and digital content (yet, this doesn't concern the cross-border availability of streaming services, there is a separate proposal for that). There will be more visibility regarding what is actually on offer and you can compare prices more easily. And by limiting the discrimination of consumers and businesses the proposal shall help to make the still imperfect internal market a little bit more perfect.

 

What's the content?

According to the proposal technical geoblocking and automatic re-routing will be banned. That means you should always have access to an online shop and you should not be blocked based on your IP address. Also re-routing consumers to another, country-specific web shop will only be allowed if they agree.

So everybody should have access to everything. Yet, the Commission does not create a right to actually get stuff delivered. Two principles will be established:

Last but not least: payments. If a supplier offers payment by card, direct debit or bank transfer he has to offer each method for all customers from all countries (so you cannot say, I don't accept credit cards from - e.g. - Cyprus). Yet, MEPs decided to put an exemption in the text: If there is a serious risk for a trader not to get his money  - e.g. because of credit card fraud - he can ask for a prepayment via bank transfer.

 

What's happening with this legislation in the future?

This proposal was dealt with in the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee. The Council agreed on a position in 2016 and the Parliament did so in April 2017. Trilogue negotiations were wrapped up with a provisional deal in November 2017 which the EP plenary confirmed in February 2018. As this is a regulation it will be directly applicable across the EU after a nine months transition period and Member States do not need to adapt their laws.

 

Related Bills:

Cross-border portability: Access to streaming services from abroad

Consumer rights for downloads and streaming services

New consumer rules for online shopping

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