Companies and consumers disagree on measures against Geo-Blocking in E-Commerce
After initial extracts were disclosed in late January as we reported, the European Commission has now published the complete results of its public consultation on geo-blocking and other geographical restrictions on online shopping and accessing information in the EU.
It turned out that nearly all consumers surveyed had experienced geo-blocking. The most commonly affected goods and services were clothing, accessories and shoes, books, electronics, airline tickets and booking rental cars.
However, regarding the justification for geographical restrictions, the views of companies and consumers diverge considerably. A majority of consumers said that from their point of view, there were no objective reasons whatsoever, apart from adherence to explicit legal requirements, for blocking access to online stores, for example. Particularly when shipping is easy to organise, the customer is willing to pay the costs and would use internationally accepted means of payment. By contrast, companies emphasised the importance of entrepreneurial freedom. They do not want to be forced to operate in other markets. Geo-blocking is also deemed necessary, they said, because apart from the language barriers, there are still differences between EU member states in terms of warranty law, VAT and consumer rights.
The EU Commission will integrate the results into the legislative proposal announced for May 2016. It remains to be seen which legislative measures will be included in this. They may range from applying duties to provide information and ensure transparency to prohibiting automatic forwarding to national websites to a general ban on geo-blocking with very few exceptions.
Click here to read a summary of the responses:
Summary of Responses to the European Commission’s 2015 Public Consultation.
The respondents' individual answers can be found on the EU Commission website:
Geo-Blocking Public Consultation - Contributions received from Stakeholders
Click here to read the recently published paper on Mystery Shopping tests with further information on the technology and prevalence of geo-blocking in the EU:
Mystery Shopping Survey on Territorial Restrictions and Geo-Blocking in the European Digital Single Market - Key Findings
Any Questions? Please contact: Dr. Torsten Kraul
Practice Group: Telecommunication, Commerce & Trade