The European Parliament has voted to end barriers to cross-border e-commerce.
The decision to ban ‘geoblocking’ means that consumers will be able to shop online in the European Union without being blocked or automatically re-routed to another website due to their nationality, place of residence or even their temporary location.
This should give online buyers easier cross-border access to products and services across the EU.
Traders will have to treat online shoppers from another EU country in the same way as local ones, granting them access to the same prices or sale conditions, when they:
– Buy goods (e.g. electronics or clothes) which are delivered to a member state to which the trader offers delivery in their general conditions;
– Receive electronically supplied services not protected by copyright, such as cloud services, firewalls, data warehousing or website hosting; or
– Buy a service which is supplied in the premises of the trader or in a physical location where the trader operates, e.g. hotel stays, car rentals or music festivals
Digital copyrighted materials, such as e-books, downloadable music and online games, are exempt from the new rules for the time being. However, the EU Commission will assess within two years of the regulation coming into force whether the ban on geoblocking should be widened to include such content, as well as audio-visual and transport services, which are also excluded.
Polish MEP Roza Thun said: “This new EU law on geoblocking is an important step towards an even more competitive and integrated Digital Single Market, for both consumers and traders. It also represents another milestone in the fight against the discrimination of consumers based on their nationality or place of residence.”
The ban is expected to take effect before the end of 2018.