EC: geo-blocking may be inconsistent with competition rules




The European Commission has published the preliminary results of a study on the state of the European e-commerce. The Commission argues that geo-blocking is common in digital content and that this practice may be contrary to competition law.

The preliminary results of the investigation , which began in May 2015, show that 68 per cent of applying the providers of online digital content geo-blocking, where they block users based on their IP address. Dutch as a viewer can not watch movies for example, only for the German public has been released by the operator.

The European Commission announced that this practice is unacceptable, if the geo-blockade due to agreements between suppliers and distributors. This would be contrary to EU competition rules. If the blockage is, however, the result of a unilateral decision and not two parties, then there is nothing to worry about.

In the case of online digital content shows that nearly 60 percent of companies surveyed geo-blocking applies due to contractual restrictions imposed by the supplier. Thus they would therefore restrict competition, according to the Commission’s interpretation. These restrictions are mainly imposed by fiction television programs, movies and sports broadcasts, as is clear from the research.

The Commission notes that the findings do not mean immediately that there are actually identified competition concerns or that investigations be initiated to restrict competition. The investigation continues into the European e-commerce, to also identify other competition problems.

Geo-blocking has long been a thorn in the side of the European Commission because it impedes the unification of the European market. Thus, in December announced that online content should remain available to travel. Blocking based on IP address does not only apply to digital goods but also for other goods. It also wants Europe to an end.

It is striking that over and over again selected for competition law to address new issues. So can also collect personal data by companies contrary to competition rules. Recently launched the German cartel watchdog investigation against Facebook on the basis of competitive behavior.


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