EU citizens can use online services such as Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Deezer while in another EU country for holidays, studies or business, after the European Parliament approved measures allowing portability of online content.
The new rules removing geo-blocking, were adopted by 586 votes to 34, with 8 abstentions. The approval is limited to online services such as films, TV series, music, games, or sporting events, which they have paid for in their home country, and does not include cross-border reception of satellite-delivered services.
The regulation provides for a residence check and data protection. Online content service providers may take “effective and reasonable” measures to verify that the subscriber has not permanently moved to another EU country as required copyright licenses may differ between countries.
A list of permissible methods for verification purposes includes identity cards, payment details, public tax information, postal address details or IP address checks. Service providers must ensure that any processing of personal data is proportionate and must introduce safeguards, especially for IP address checks.
The new rules will only apply to online fee-based services but providers of free services can also make their content portable EU-wide provided they comply with the requirements relating to residency checks.
“European citizens have been waiting for these new rules, which represent a step towards a common digital market. The news rules increase mobility and successfully offer portability to users of European online content, without affecting copyright”, said the rapporteur Jean-Marie Cavada (ALDE, FR).
The draft law still needs to be formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers. Member states will have nine months from the date of entry into force of the regulation to bring the new rules into force.
Commercial Broadcasters in Europe welcome the adoption of the Portability Regulation, however they warn of SatCab dangers.
“Portability will allow subscribers to enjoy their favourite services anywhere in the EU. However SatCab (Broadcasters regulation) will limit the possibility of these same services to invest in and acquire content. The result could undermine portability and consumer choice and warp into an empty promise for EU viewers and a serious challenge for jobs and growth in our sector,” said Grégoire Polad, director general of the ACT, the Association of Commercial Television in Europe.
“The entire audio-visual value chain is therefore looking for the Commission to acknowledge these concerns and reconsider the Broadcasters regulation. The EU should first allow consumers to experience the benefits of portability before potentially undermining the sector”.