Reforms to kick-start Digital Single Market must not undermine existing rights

09-Dec-2015 @ 14:0

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A series of proposals to update consumer rules for the digital age must underpin, rather than undermine the digital single market, say ECR MEPs.

The European Commission has announced three new proposals on laws for consumer rights for digital content, tangible goods bought online, and removing the "geo-blocking" of access to digital content.

Vicky Ford MEP, the chair of the European Parliament's Internal Market Committee said: "A common set of rules for those buying and selling online goods and content across Europe could help unlock economic growth and boost competitiveness, but it is important that new rules are clear and do not add extra cost and confusion.

"The UK already has Europe's biggest e-commerce sector, in part due to consumers understanding what rights they have when they buy online. Therefore putting in place the same rules across Europe has the potential to give consumers more choice.

"There is a danger in trying to place identical rights in every country if consumers in the UK, France and Germany lose some rights they are familiar with.

"There is also a risk of undermining consumer trust if there are different rights when buying online as opposed to offline."

The European Commission has also announced its intention to introduce a "Portability Regulation", to tackle the issue known as geo-blocking.

Mrs Ford, who chairs the ECR's working group on the Digital Single Market, said: "When someone crosses a border in Europe, the customs officials don't take away their books and DVDs. But this is in effect what happens if you're using a streaming service to watch films or listen to music.

"These new proposals could allow holidaymakers to continue using the service they've paid for.

"However it is important to make sure that these measures do not inadvertently undermine the ability for our content creators and broadcasters to sell their rights across Europe.

"Revenue from these sales in other countries ensures that our content is watched across the world and therefore it is important to keep the changes proportionate.

"The Commission's proposals lack clarity in some areas and there is huge devil in the detail".

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