#DigitalSingleMarket: does online business get your vote?

#DigitalSingleMarket: does online business get your vote?

Late last year, I gave my predictions for 2015 to SCL - The IT Law Community:

Futurology rewards the brave. Therefore, I predict with some confidence that by 21 October 2015 automatic dog-walkers, bar code licence plates, food hydrators—oh!—and hoverboards will become a reality.

Perhaps I was confusing reality with Back to the Future II?

An easy mistake to make.

However, time continues to move on relentlessly; technology seems to move on even quicker.

The law, as always, struggles to keep up.

Yesterday, the relatively new European Commission tried to get a grip on the challenges of the digital revolution by adopting its Digital Single Market for Europe strategy. It includes a set of 16 targeted actions to be delivered by the end of 2016.

Here are the highlights for online businesses:


  • rules to make cross-border e-commerce easier: the Commission states that this will include ‘harmonised EU rules on contracts and consumer protection’. Will we therefore see the rebirth of the Common European Sales Law in the months to come (see our post: Common European Sales Law: does it have any future)? That said, even if the CESL is introduced, it is likely to be optional. I can’t help thinking that it’ll be the proverbial pétard mouillé, as they might say in Brussels (‘damp squib’, since you ask)
  • ending unjustified geo-blocking: this is where online sellers either deny consumers access to a website based on their location or re-route them to a local store with different prices. The Commission reiterates that, ‘by limiting consumer choice, geo-blocking is a significant cause of frustration and of fragmentation of the Internal Market’. Permitted geo-blocking in the future is likely to be limited under these proposals. On a more prosaic level, it might also mean that you can watch EastEnders in Eastern Europe or Jeremy Kyle in Kiel (on second thoughts, perhaps geo-blocking does have its

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