Regulator moves to ban web geo-blocking, hotels and others under spotlight

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The practice of restricting access to websites or products – or producing a price based on a user’s location – is to be outlawed in Europe.

Legislation for called geo-blocking will go before the European Parliament officials next year after a draft regulation was passed by a qualified majority this week by council member states.

The regulatory framework will cover all areas of ecommerce, including sites selling or listing travel products such as a hotel, attraction or car rental.

Peter Žiga, the president of the council and also minister of economy in Slovakia, says:

“The new rules to stop unjustified geo-blocking will improve considerably the e-commerce economy and give citizens access to a wider choice of goods and services.

“This can only happen if there is a guarantee of safety and trust for both buyers and sellers.”

Some transportation services such as air tickets and buses will not be included in the proposal as they are part of other legislation.

The council says:

“Traders will not be allowed to block or limit customers’ access to their online interface for reasons of nationality or place of residence.

“A clear explanation will have to be provided if a trader blocks or limits access or redirects customers to a different version of the online interface.”

Specifically around tourism products, it adds:

“Under the new rules, traders will not be able to discriminate between customers with regard to the general terms and conditions – including prices – they offer on the sales of goods and services in three cases.

“These are where the trader provides services which are received by the customer in the country where the trader operates, such as hotel accommodation, sports events, car rental, and entry tickets to music festivals or leisure parks.”

The original proposal was put before the council earlier this year and is expected to be debated during 2017 before being ratified by member states.

NB: Map Europe image via FreeImages.

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