Geo-blocking findings should not prompt "burdensome regulation", says MEP.

18-Mar-2016 @ 01:00

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Most digital content providers in the EU use geo-blocking to prevent material being viewed across borders, a new survey has found.

However, Conservative Internal Market and Consumer Protection spokesman Vicky Ford said this was often done for solid business reasons and did not believe the findings should automatically prompt further regulation.

The survey by the European Commission discovered that 68% of digital content providers block users in other member states, often because they are contractually obliged to do so by suppliers.

Of companies selling goods such as electrical items, clothes and shoes, 38% block cross-border trade.

The research was undertaken as part the Commission's anti-trust inquiry and the results will now be examined in more detail to discover whether any rules are being broken.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "Where a non-dominant company decides unilaterally not to sell abroad that is not an issue for competition law. But where geo-blocking occurs due to arrangements, we need to take a close look whether there is anti-competitive behaviour which can be addressed by EU competition tools."

While supporting the drive towards a digital single market within the EU, East of England MEP Mrs Ford urged caution.

"I'm pleased to see the Commission's recognition that geo-blocking is more often than not a decision taken by businesses for valid, legitimate and legal reasons," she said.

"If a market is not developed enough then a business may legitimately prevent a consumer in another country from buying their goods or products. Top down, burdensome targets or regulation that tells businesses how and where they should sell their goods should be avoided."

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