Discrimination when shopping online in the EU prohibited



New European rules have come into force, which ensure that consumers across Europe are able to make online purchases in a consistent manner. Online providers are not allowed to treat consumers and businesses from different countries differently. Such inconsistent treatment is called geoblocking. These new rules came into force on December 3, 2018.

What is geoblocking?

Geoblocking means that an online provider treats its customers differently based on their nationalities or geographical locations. This happens, for example, when customers do not gain access to the provider’s website or when they are redirected to a different version of the website, or when they cannot purchase products or services under the same conditions as other customers can. Geoblocking usually happens online, but also occurs elsewhere, for example, with car rental companies or amusement parks.

What are the changes for businesses?

All businesses in the EU must comply with the new geoblocking rules. For businesses in the Netherlands, this means that, when selling their products and services to consumers, they cannot make a distinction between Dutch customers and customers from other EU countries. They cannot deny consumers from other EU countries access to their websites or apps, and they cannot offer their products or services under different conditions. Businesses can visit ACM’s website and find more information about the new rules that they need to comply with.

What are the changes for consumers?

As a result of the new rules, Dutch consumers are able to shop online anywhere in the EU without any barriers. All consumers in the EU are able to make purchases on localized websites under the same conditions as other customers. However, businesses that are registered outside the Netherlands are not required to deliver purchases to Dutch addresses. For more information, please visit ACM’s consumer information portal: .

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