Geo-Blocking and Cross-Border Portability

Are you being blocked or automatically redirected to another site when trying to buy a product or service on a site in another European country? Have you ever been unable to watch a video on the internet because it was not available in your country? Since 2018, consumers may no longer be discriminated due to their nationality or place of residence.

Geo-blocking

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 regulationthat prohibits the blocking or automatic redirection to a different site without the permission of the consumer. This regulation applies from 3December 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.

Cross-Border Portability

As of April 1th, 2018 and coming into force in the European Regulation 2017-1128, if you find yourself temporarily in another member stateof the European Union, you will be able to enjoy your paid subscriptions for watching films, series, or listening to music. The regulation aims to promote cross-border portability of digital content.

You could therefore enjoy while in the European Union your subscriptions for:

  • Streaming or video platforms (examples: Netflix, Amazon, Youtube)
  • Digital books to download
  • Television programs on replay on private national channels
  • Sports events broadcast by premium services

You must take advantage of the same characteristics of your subscriptions: access to the same content, same assortment, for the same number of devices and users, and with the same abilities. But this is without guarantee of quality of service.

The contracts entered into before March 20th, 2018 are all affected.

Attention!

  • Cross-border portability is only mandatory for paid subscriptions. Free service providers are free to offer it or not to their clients.
  • These new regulations only apply to temporary stays in other European Union countries. A person residing in Germany could not enjoy a subscription to a French television channel, for example.
  • The regulation does not provide any definition to the term “temporary”. Professionals will therefore be able to verify your place of usual residence by means of your billing address, means of your used payment, your IP address, your internet access contract, etc.