February 8, 2018
After agreeing to end the practice of “geoblocking” in the European Union more than a year ago, the European Parliament this week voted officially to prohibit the practice for merchants that want to sell across borders in the E.U.
Geoblocking is the practice of an e-commerce merchant in one country refusing to sell to customers in another EU country or charging more than they do to local customers. Some merchants have used the tactic as a fraud-prevention measure in the past, but e-commerce observers say the increasing sophistication of antifraud technology enables merchants to safely transact, even in countries where the rate of fraudulent orders is high. The potential for additional sales and the increasing ability to spot bad guys makes geoblocking a poor option, according to most fraud experts.
European policymakers, who have been implementing steps toward a Digital Single Market for years, lauded the vote.
“From Christmas 2018, people will not have to worry about a website blocking or re-routing them just because they—or their credit card—come from a different country. Wherever they are in the EU, they will be able to access goods and services online,” members of the European Commission said in a statement. “But this achievement does not stand alone to make e-commerce more comfortable and easier for consumers and businesses alike: it is an important piece of the puzzle together with more transparent and affordable cross-border parcel delivery prices, simpler value-added tax rules for e-commerce and stronger consumer protection.”