EU agrees to remove geoblocking restrictions

Friday 19 May 2017 | 08:35 CET | News

The European Parliament has given its approval to the EC’s new regulations on limiting the use of geoblocking, meaning subscribers to streaming services such as Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Spotify and Deezer will be able to access their digital content while travelling elsewhere in the EU starting in the first half of 2018. The new rules will apply only to online fee-based services but providers of free services also have the option of making their content available EU-wide. “The new rules increase mobility and successfully offer portability to users of European online content, without affecting copyright," said French MEP Jean-Marie Cavada after the regulations were adopted by 586 votes to 34, with 8 abstentions.

Under the new rules, online content providers must verify the user’s member state of residence by using no more than two “reasonable and proportionate” methods of identification from a list including identity cards, payment details, public tax information, postal address details or IP address checks.  Member states now have nine months from the date of entry into force of the geoblocking regulation to bring the new rules into force.

According to an EC survey, 64 percent of Europeans used the internet to play or download games, images, films or music in 2016. Their numbers are expected to grow significantly as they will pay less to access the internet on their mobile devices in other EU member states when mobile roaming charges end in the EU from 15 June 2017.

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