Friday, 10 April 2015

Digital Single Market: equal pricing across the EU and ban of geo-blocking

Many consumers are nowadays aware that they may purchase the same product online from the same trader at a different price in various countries. For example, purchasing flights from Amsterdam to Warsaw could be more expensive than flights from Warsaw to Amsterdam; the same dress sold on the Dutch website of an international clothing designer could be more expensive than on their English website. This difference in pricing could hinder further development of a Single Digital Market and therefore, the investigation into the reasons for it and its functioning has been announced by the European competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager (Competition policy for the Digital Single Market: Focus on e-commerce). Another issue that will be looked into are the geo-blocking software that enables certain service providers to limit provision of their services to certain countries only. For example, if you log in with your account to Netflix in the Netherlands you will access different movie library than in the United States or in the United Kingdom, mostly due to film and TV rights-holders increasing their own income by selling these rights at a different price for various countries; YouTube will not show a certain video to you based on your geographical location (EU plans competition inquiry into e-commerce sector; Europe wants to stop geo-blocking on Netflix and RTE). Vestager said in her speech: “(...) consumers must be allowed to look for the best deals online wherever they want. Contractual bans of so-called passive online sales are therefore considered hardcore restrictions of competition.

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