Geoblocking Update – The Pace of Geoblocking is Increasing

  • Posted on May 18, 2016

Geoblocking is the practice of restricting access to internet content based upon the user’s geographical location. In a geo-blocking scheme, the user’s location is calculated using geolocation techniques, such as checking the user’s IP address against a blacklist or whitelist; the result of this check is used to determine whether a system will approve or deny access to the content.  

Last year, the European Commission launched an enquiry into geoblocking. The FSPA are members of FESI (Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry) and receive updates from them as the European Commission’s enquiry into geoblocking evolves. FESI have determined that the EU could potentially put the following plans in place:

  • Banning automatic rerouting , unless the consumer provides explicit consent
  • Companies may be required to provide text explaining why geoblocking is taking place, even if justified  

Of potential concern for FSPA members is the requirement to get ‘explicit consent’ before rerouting customers.  Similarly, the requirement to provide text explaining why geoblocking is taking place, even if justified could cause problems.  

These requirements could end up becoming another ‘cookie law’ situation whereby websites are required to display pop-up notifications and force customers to tick boxes.  This could have a detrimental effect on e-commerce, as it may make the shopping journey more complicated and increase the chances of customers abandoning their purchase.   

The European Commission are hosting a free seminar entitled ‘Consumer Choice, Competition and Growth in the Single Market’ on Friday 10th June. It will take place at the University of Oxford.  

If you would like a more detailed update or for further information on the seminar please contact Jane Montgomery – [email protected]