Thursday, 23 November 2017 10:29

EU to end unjustified geoblocking by end of next year

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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

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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