A Eurobarometer survey has been published which shows that EU citizens are aware of the geo-blocking rules
Seven months after Regulation (EU) 2018/302 on geo-blocking came into force, general consumer awareness of the new rules against restrictions for online shopping and cross-border sales is already high, according to the survey.
The Regulation entered into force on 3 December 2018. It addresses unjustified online sales discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market. It does not oblige traders to allow access to their content, nor sell or deliver across the whole EU, but rather prohibits traders from discriminating against customers based on their nationality, place of residence or place of establishment, if the trader already delivers to their particular member state.
The survey shows that fifty percent of EU citizens are generally aware of EU action to tackle unjustified discrimination by traders. However, more efforts are needed to ensure wider knowledge of the specific digital rights enshrined in EU law, as only 29% of respondents know which rights specifically concern them.
The Eurobarometer survey is part of the European Commission's ongoing evaluation of consumer needs and market realities in sectors that are currently not covered or only partially covered by the geo-blocking rules. This evaluation will feed into an initial review of the rules, planned for March 2020, which will look into whether there is need to extend the scope of the Regulation. For example, the survey clearly shows that audio-visual and other electronically supplied copyright-protected content, such as music streaming and downloading, e-books and games, is among the most popular content sought by consumers across borders. This type of content is not covered by the current rules, yet it is likely that it will merit specific attention under EU law in the near future.
In particular, the number of internet users trying to get cross-border access to content has nearly doubled over the last four years (from 8% in 2015 to 15% in 2019). The most popular types of content sought across borders is audio-visual (9% of respondents) and music (8%). The survey also indicates that this trend is likely to continue, driven by young people in particular; the percentage of 15 to 24 year-old respondents who have tried to access these services across borders is 28%, nearly double the overall figure.
The most common reasons for trying to access such content are lack of availability in the respondents' own country (44%), followed by the quest for a wider choice (39%). A majority of those who did not try to have access to content meant for users in another EU country would nonetheless still be interested in doing so (in particular audio-visual with 31% and music with 29%, with even higher figures for the younger generations).