Geo-blocking is a system which restricts a user's access to the internet based on their geographical location. This undermines the concept of the single market among Member States, one of the core values of the EU, as it limits the consumer's ability to benefit from the advantages of online shopping and cross-border sales within the EU.
As of 3 December 2018, Regulation 2018/302 of 28 February 2018 (the "Geo-blocking Regulation") will be applied in order to put an end to unjustified geo-blocking as part of the European Union's Digital Single Market Strategy. The Digital Single Market Strategy strives to create an online single market where;
"The free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured and where individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and exercise online activities under conditions of fair competition, and a high level of consumer and personal data protection, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence."
In order for such objectives to be achieved, strategies such as geo-blocking must be regulated and curtailed as much as possible.
The new Geo-blocking Regulation addresses unjustified geo-blocking by setting out three cases where there is no justified reason to implement online restrictions or to discriminate based on location or nationality within the internal market.
The sale of goods without physical delivery. This means that any consumer within the EU is entitled to purchase goods online from retailers based in another Member State and either collect it at the trader's premises or organise for delivery themselves to their own home.
The sale of electronically supplied services. In this case, for example, a French consumer will be able to purchase online services from a German company without paying fees over and above those which would be payable by a German consumer. Such online services may include website hosting services.
The sale of services provided in a specific physical location. This category captures amongst other things the online purchase of concert tickets or rental accommodation which will be located in another Member State to that of the consumer. In this case the consumer is entitled to equal treatment to those consumers located in the Member State where the service is provided.
The Regulation also bans the blocking of access to websites of other Member States and automatic re-routing. An example of automatic re-routing in practice would be a...