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Your Business and the Geo-Blocking Regulation [Important]

2019-01-08
E-commerce
EU regulation, geoblocking

On 28 February 2018 the European Parliament voted to end unjustified Geo-Blocking with a new Regulation (EU 2018/302). It aims to:

[...] prevent discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment, including unjustified geo-blocking, in cross-border transactions between a trader and a customer relating to the sales of goods and the provision of services within the Union.

In other words: EU citizens can now benefit from uniform provisions upon purchasing goods and services independently from their nationality or a place of residence in the Union.

All traders selling into the EU were provided with a 9 months’ period to adjust their business models to the new rules. Preparations are almost over now as the Regulation enters into force on 3 December 2018.

What is Geo-Blocking?

This is a discriminatory practice occurring where traders operating in one Member State limit access to their online interfaces, such as websites and apps for customers from other Member States wishing to engage in cross-border transactions. Discrimination might occur when a website's original content is completely inaccessible and users are redirected to other content, or services are provided under different conditions and prices depending on the users’ location.

In Bulgaria we have a term for this practice as it is called: double standard.

An example of Geo-blocking: While surfing the web, Mariya encounters an ad for an Italian e-store selling shoes. She resides in Bulgaria so an English version of the website is automatically loaded when she visits the store. There is no option for displaying the Italian version. As of 3 December 2018 redirection will require the customer's explicit consent. In such cases users will get access to the website's version they actually wanted to visit.
Why measures for merging virtual frontiers were taken?

EU stats show that nearly 60% of all enterprises practice geo-blocking in one way or another. Meanwhile only 15% of the EU citizens shop on a regular basis from foreign suppliers.

This data manifests the fragmentary character of markets based on geo-location. Thus the free movement of goods, services and capitals is prevented. Measures aim to unify e-commerce so that local businesses function as one whole by offering equal opportunities for all customers.

How to bring your business into compliance with the new rules?
  • From now on, the EU will strictly monitor the field of e-commerce. The body, responsible for the performance and application of the new Regulation on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria is the Commission for Consumer Protection. Each Member State designates on its own which shall be the governmental institution to monitor and guarantee the implementation of the new rules.

Each Member State shall designate a body or bodies responsible for providing practical assistance to consumers in the case of a dispute between a consumer and a trader arising from the application of this Regulation. (Art. 8)

  • According to the new Regulation businesses are not obliged to support different language versions of the interfaces. However, if they do, sellers shall provide them with the explicit consent from their users. Content in different languages shall not differ unjustifiably from the website's original version when it comes to terms of use, prices, nor payment methods. Last, but not least - all website versions should be up and running so that users can access them anytime.

A trader shall not, for reasons related to a customer's nationality, place of residence or place of establishment, redirect that customer to a version of the trader's online interface that is different from the online interface to which the customer initially sought access [...] (Art. 3)

  • The new Regulation aims to restrict unjustified offering of services/goods with different purposes to customers from another Member State or with a different nationality. Justified differences in pricing shall be described in the website's Terms of Use.
  • Sellers shall not restrict access to their services/products „based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment“..
  • If businesses are oriented towards international offering of goods/services, they shall unify their payment methods, especially when a customer wishes to pay via wire transfer and the payment is performed in a currency the seller accepts.
Important: European legislation focuses more and more on the importance of providing an encrypted connection upon the provision of sensitive personal data.

For remote transactions, such as online payments, the security requirements go even further, requiring a dynamic link to the amount of the transaction and the account of the payee, to further protect the user by minimizing the risks in case of mistakes or fraudulent attacks [...]

To users: Make sure that the website you visit is secured with an SSL Certificate.
To website owners: Make sure you maintain a high security level by choosing trusted SSL Certificate providers.
SuperHosting.BG complies with the new Regulation

As a leading hosting service provider SuperHosting.BG operates in full compliance with the requirements of the Bulgarian and European legislation. Our services are provided under economically and objectively justified conditions.

Each citizen of the EU holds the right of equal access to our services as their quality is not influenced in any way by criteria such as nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.

The new Regulation's full text can be found HERE.

Marketing Specialist

Didi is part of the SuperMarketing Team. One of her many SuperPowers is her ability to cope with any challenge she faces on her way to success. Her positive attitude, wide smile and absolute professionalism, immediately gains the sympathy of everyone – familiar and unfamiliar with her personality. It doesn't matter if a friend or a client needs her help, Didi is always ready to cooperate and do whatever it takes to get the job done.

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