From February 23, 2019, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) will be the designated regulator to enforce the rules for geoblocking. These rules have been in force since early-December, and they make sure that consumers anywhere in the European Union are able to make purchases under the same conditions. Businesses cannot treat consumers and companies from different countries differently.
What is geoblocking?
Geoblocking means that businesses treat their customers differently based on their nationalities or geographical locations. This happens, for example, when customers do not gain access to a website or when they are automatically redirected to a different version of the website, or when they are unable to purchase products or services under the same conditions as other customers can. Geoblocking usually happens online, but also occurs elsewhere, for example, at rental car companies or amusement parks. The rules are explained on acm.nl and consuwijzer.nl (both in Dutch).
What will ACM do?
Since consumers anywhere in the European Union must be able to make purchases online under the same conditions, ACM will take action against businesses that do not comply with the geoblocking rules. Businesses that do not comply with the rules risk fines of up to 900,000 euros per violation. If companies that are registered outside the Netherlands commit violations, ACM will collaborate with other European regulators.
ACM is calling on businesses and consumers to report any problems they might have with companies that do not comply with the rules.