We wrote a blog in March 2018 on the "Geo-Blocking Regulation'" (Regulation (EU) 2018/302). Please click here to read the full blog. In this post we commented that it was unclear how the Geo-blocking Regulation will operate between the UK and the EU after Brexit because much will depend on any bilateral agreement or trade deal between the UK and the rest of the EU.
As no trade deal has yet been agreed with the EU, the Government have now put the draft Geo-blocking Regulation (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (the "Draft Regulation") before Parliament for approval.
By way of recap, geo-blocking refers to:
the blocking or limiting of an EU customer's access to a business's website, app, or other online interface based on their location; and/or
automatically re-routing the customer to a 'local' version of the business's website, which may have different content, products, services, prices, payment conditions, etc.
The Geo-Blocking Regulation prevents brands from carrying out these practices where they discriminate against EU customers based on their nationality, place of residence or temporary location.
The Draft Regulations revoke the Geo-blocking Regulation and the Geo-Blocking (Enforcement) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1153). The Secretary of State made the Draft Regulations in accordance with section 8(1) of the European Withdrawal Act 2018 and they will come into effect the later of exit day or 21 days after the day on which they are made.
In a 'no-deal' scenario this means that a UK trader would not be prohibited from discriminating between EU customers and UK customers and would be able to offer different terms to each. However, UK businesses and traders should be aware that the Geo-Blocking Regulation will continue to apply to UK businesses supplying goods and services into the EU to the extent that it prohibits discrimination as between customers in different EU member states.
For more information on this topic, please contact Vicky Reinhardt or your usual contact within Fieldfisher's Brand Development Team.
With thanks to Rachel Bowley who co-authored this update.