Home Technology Regulation EU to end unjustified geoblocking by end of next year

EU to end unjustified geoblocking by end of next year

The European Union has told online sales outfits that operate within its jurisdiction that they will have to stop redirecting would-be customers to the site in their own countries from the end of 2018.

Stores like Amazon and other retailers tend to redirect users to the local version of a site, leaving them unable to take advantage of any offers that may be available at a site in another location.

The new rules define three specific situations where there is no justification and no objective criteria for different treatment between customers from different EU states:

The sale of goods without physical delivery. Example: A Belgian customer wishes to buy a refrigerator and finds the best deal on a German website. The customer will be entitled to order the product and collect it at the trader's premises or organise delivery himself to his home.

The sale of electronically supplied services. Example: A Bulgarian consumer wishes to buy hosting services for her website from a Spanish company. She will now have access to the service, can register and buy this service without having to pay additional fees compared to a Spanish consumer.

The sale of services provided in a specific physical location. Example: An Italian family can buy a trip directly to an amusement park in France without being redirected to an Italian website.

A survey by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, found that geoblocking practices were identified in 63% of all websites accessed. In 2015, less than 40% of websites allowed cross-border customers to complete a purchase.

Vice-President Andrus Ansip, who is responsible for the Digital Single Market, said: "Today we put an end to unjustified discrimination when shopping online. This is excellent news for consumers. With the new rules, Europeans will be able to choose from which website they wish to buy, without being blocked or re-routed. This will be a reality by Christmas next year."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.