'GEO-BLOCKING': D Day-3 Weeks Before The Geo-Blocking Prohibition For Online Sales In Europe Becomes Applicable

Author:Mr Marc-Antoine Picquier and Alexandra Berg-Moussa
Profession:August Debouzy

The EU Regulation 2018/302 of 28 February 2018 on addressing unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market 1 (the "Regulation") will be applicable on December 3, 2010. It aims to prohibit traders from unjustified geo-blocking in the EU and thus to tackle restrictions on cross-border online transactions. A few weeks before its application, here is a reminder of the main features of the Regulation.

What is geo-blocking?

Geo-blocking is a practice which consists, for a professional exercising his activities in a Member State, to block or limit access to their online interfaces (websites or mobile applications) to customers from other Member states, or to apply to such customers different conditions of access to goods or services offered online (prices, general conditions, etc.), without any objective reason.

These restrictions based on the nationality or place of residence or establishment of the customer are traditionally implemented through the use technological measures or other measures allowing the professional to locate physically the customer via, for example, its IP address, delivery or billing address or the country of issue of its payment method, in order to block the customer's access to some online interfaces or to redirect the customer to other (local) versions of these interfaces.

Who is impacted by this Regulation?

First, this Regulation applies to traders, which means "any natural person or any legal person, irrespective of whether privately or publicly owned, who is acting, including through any other person acting in the name or on behalf of the trader, for purposes relating to the trade, business, craft or profession of the trader" 2 (a "Trader").

In addition to this, the Regulation is not limited to the relationship between a Trader and a consumer (B2C) but also applies to the relationship between two professionals (B2B). Indeed, this Regulation is applicable to any customer defined as "a consumer who is a national of, or has his or her place of residence in, a Member State, or an undertaking which has its place of establishment in a Member State, and receives a service or purchases a good, or seeks to do so, within the Union, for the sole purpose of end use" 3 (a "Customer").

Thus, B2C and B2B sales are covered as long as the seller is a Trader and the buyer is the end user of the purchased good or service...

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