The end of Geo-blocking

The European Union is banning unjustified geo-blocking on eCommerce sites

When trying to access a foreign site, you have most probably encountered the problem that it did not let you access it. This is because of Geo-blocking.

When a website uses Geo-blocking, they are denying you the ability to view or purchase products on that site because you are based in a different country. The new EU regulations are trying to end this discriminatory practice among its member states.

Vendors will have to provide equal access to goods and services in three major cases: when the buyer is accessing the site from a country where they offer delivery or if the item is picked up from an agreed location, for electronically supplied services, or for services that are provided in the traders’ country (i.e. car hiring etc.). This, however, does not mean that the sellers cannot offer different prices for people buying from different countries.

It is also not allowed anymore to offer different payment methods for buyers from different member states. This is considered discrimination based on their nationality or place of residence.

The purpose of the new legislation is to create a digital single market in the European Union and enhance the free circulation of online goods and services within the borders of the EU, as well as fighting nationality discrimination.

The proposal was submitted back in May 2016 and accepted in February 2018. It will come into effect 9 months after its publication, which took place in March 2018. There’s a review clause that mentions a re-evaluation of the practices 2 years after they’ve come into practice. At that point, the European Council will also review if Geo-blocking should be removed on certain copyrighted material such as e-books, video games, downloadable music, etc.

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