27th May 2016

EC proposes measures against geo-blocking

On 25 May, the European Commission proposed a package of measures related to the Digital Single Market project. The proposed pieces of legislation deals with geo-blocking in e-shops, cross-border parcel delivery, consumer protection in the digital world, as well as online platforms and on-demand video providers. Firstly, the EC proposes equal access of all EU consumers to all EU e-shops. According to the EC, you are not asked to provide ID when entering a classic shop in the EU, but it often happens in the online world. Consumers are routinely re-routed to country-specific websites, the prices are adjusted based on country of residence or are asked to provide payment methods specific to the e-shop´s country of establishment. These practices have no place on the single market, according to the Commission. Interestingly, even though customers from all over the EU will be able to shop on any EU e-shop on a non-discriminatory basis, the e-shops will not be required to deliver anywhere in the EU – the consumer might thus be obliged to go pick the goods across the border. The EC also proposes to introduce greater price transparency into the cross-border parcel delivery sector. Today, cross-border delivery is often up to 5 times more expensive. The EC´s proposal seeks not to regulate the prices, but by increasing price transparency encouraging competition in these services. Consumers´ rights will also be clarified with regard to the online world.

Secondly, the EC targets online audiovisual content providers and online platforms. On-demand video services will need to have at least 20% of European production in their databases and can be asked to contribute to national audiovisual grant schemes. Video-sharing platforms will need to ensure protection of minors, regulate advertising and fight against hate speech. Online platforms´ rules are to be clarified in the existing regulatory framework (e-commerce directive, telecoms legislation) to provide legal certainty and transparency. At this stage, there is no specific online platforms legislation proposal, though.

For more, click here, here, here and here.

Also last week, the Member States in the Council agreed on their negotiating position with regard to the European Parliament on the portability of digital content rules. The EC proposed the new rules in December 2015 and they consider one of the first steps of the Digital Single Market project. According to the proposal, and Council´s negotiating position (general approach), consumers will be able to access online services purchased in their country of residence while temporarily staying in another EU country.

For more on this, click here and here.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic