Geo-blocking

Are you being blocked or automatically redirected to another site while trying to buy a product or service on a site in a different European country? Does the site you want to use not deliver to your country and/or declines your credit card? Is this legal?

Update : Nov 2018

According to the European Commission, only 15% of Europeans buy from online stores in another European Union country, and only 7% of European SMEs sell abroad via the internet.

In order to promote cross-border electronic commerce, MEPs (members of European Parliament) approved 6 February 2018 a regulation that prohibits the blocking or automatic redirection to a different site without the permission of the consumer. This regulation applies from 3 December 2018.

There can no longer be discrimination, automatic blockage, or access limitation based on:

  • nationality
  • place of residence
  • place of establishment
  • IP address
  • delivery address
  • choice of language
  • country of issue of means of payment

Example:

When connecting from Germany, you must be able to consult the foreign site of a professional. The latter can ask you to confirm your choice to stay on this page in a foreign language. If you ultimately decide to consult the German page, it can record your choice for future connections, but you must be able to easily return to the foreign site if you would like. Only legal or public security reasons can prevent you from accessing a certain interface. But the professional has to clearly inform you of these reasons.

The following are affected by the proposed regulation in e-commerce:

  • goods that can be delivered in another state in the European union
  • services provided electronically (data storage services or website hosting)
  • services such as hotel accommodations and car rental

Audiovisual services are governed by the cross-border portability regulation, which came into force on the 20th of March, 2018.

This regulation excludes copyrighted content services, financial services, transport (specific rules are applicable and generally forbid discrimination), health care and social services.

Delivery of goods

Professionals will still be free to choose the countries in which they wish to deliver and are not obligated to deliver in countries other than are proposed. They can legally propose different prices depending on the countries.

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