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EU proposes allowing use of online subscriptions while abroad

European citizens should be allowed to access online subscription services when travelling abroad, the European Parliament has said.19 May 2017

Online content is increasingly accessed using portable devices, but content is often blocked when consumers travel outside their own country. Under the new regulations users who have paid for the right to watch, listen to or read online content from a provider in their home country will be allowed to do so from any other EU country where they are staying for a limited time, the Parliament said.

Allowing consumers access to their legally acquired content would also discourage piracy, the Parliament said.

Nearly 11% of European households had a subscription to a video on demand service in 2016, and that number is estimated to double by 2020, the Parliament said, based on figures from the European Broadcasting Union.

Content providers are able to identify the location of subscribers, but the draft text calls for measures to be included in the regulation to protect the data and privacy of users.

The measure would follow the end of roaming charges for European mobile phone users on 15 July. MEPs are also considering new rules on geoblocking to stop online sellers discriminating against buyers based on where they live.

If adopted, the regulation would apply from the first half of 2018 and would also apply to subscriptions already in place, the Parliament said.