EU to remove geoblocking from online content subscriptions

EU to remove geoblocking from online content subscriptions
European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel © Európa Pont

The European Commission has announced that subscribers to digital services will be able to access their online content subscriptions from anywhere in the EU.

The new legislation will enter into force on 1 April and will apply to any online content subscriptions which are paid for by consumers, with an additional measures allowing for providers of free services to opt in.

The aim of the new rules is to remove what the EU has called “unfair” geographical restrictions on certain content, also known as ‘geoblocking’, and forms part of a wider strategy to clamp down on the practice in online retail and other sectors.

The plan takes a step towards the EU’s ambition to develop a Digital Single Market, and has also been highlighted as a specific priority for Bulgaria’s presidency of the council of the EU. As such, stakeholders including European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, Commissioner for the Digital Single Market Mariya Gabriel, and Bulgarian Minister of Information Technology and Communications Ivaylo Moskovski have released a joint statement welcoming the announcement.

What did the joint statement say?

In their joint statement, the stakeholders said that the new legislation would build on the commission’s previous success in abolishing roaming charges for European citizens across the continent, and that it addressed an area that is a priority not only for the stakeholders, but for European citizens.

The statement read: “[The] new rules directly respond to new behaviours and habits amongst European citizens using new technologies … Almost 60% of young Europeans say that being able to travel with their subscriptions is an important factor in choosing to subscribe to online services. Making portability a reality addresses this concern.”

Further, the commission expects that the legislation to facilitate more portability will increase the number of subscribers to services. The stakeholders add that the measures will also have significant benefits for providers of online content subscriptions, releasing them from the responsibility of applying for different licences for each territory.

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