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EU ends geoblocking in ecommerce

The European Union has called an end to geoblocking for online shoppers. This means that ecommerce websites in the EU can no longer block visitors from other EU countries. The new law has come into force this week.

The new regulation was proposed by the European Commission and has come into force yesterday. In February, the European Parliament has approved these rules, which were only pending formal approval by the European Council back then.

Now it’s for real. European consumers can browse any website that’s hosted in the European Union and they can no longer be blocked or redirected, just because they are from another country. This doesn’t mean an online retailer has to deliver to a foreign consumer.

‘We want a barrier-free Europe’

“In 2015, 63 percent of ecommerce websites didn’t allow purchases from another EU country, so nearly two-thirds of consumers who wanted to doing online shopping in another country could not do this”, Andrus Ansip, , who is responsible for the Digital Single Market, said. “We want a barrier-free Europe, which implies, among other things, the removal of barriers to online commerce.”

According to Irish Examiner, geo-blocking was highest for electrical household appliances (86 percent), while reservations of leisure activities (40 percent) were subject to the most geo-blocking of any services.

The new EU rules won’t apply to foreign-based streaming services or other online media that have regional restrictions. There is however a clausule in the law, which says the European Commission must evaluate within two years whether the geoblocking ban should also include such content.

Online retailers don’t have to deliver to that country

To make things clear: online retailers can no longer block online shoppers from other countries and say: “we’re not selling this product to you because of your nationality or location”, but they can however say: “we’re not delivering to your country”. In this case, consumers need to arrange for a parcel to be delivered with another delivery service provider.

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