EU Lawmakers Propose to Ban Geo-Blocking of Digital Currency Users

Garrett Keirns
Feb 20, 2017 at 10:00 UTC
Updated Feb 20, 2017 at 13:36 UTC
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A European Parliament committee has proposed new measures that would prevent location-based discrimination against consumers in the economic bloc, including users of digital currencies.

The proposal, authored by the European Union Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, targets so-called ‘geo-blocking’, or prejudice against consumers on the internet based on their location. According to the lawmakers, geo-blocking is seen of the last obstacles to obtaining a cohesive European digital common market, known as the Digital Single Market.

The draft document states:

“The Commission should assess whether to provide the legal framework that allows, subject to the freedom of contract principle, the protection of undertakings and consumers when the transaction is carried through alternative modes of payment, including virtual currencies, other blockchain type transactions and ewallets.”

This is not the first time the EU has sought to regulate digital currency. In July 2016, regulators adopted a proposal strengthening oversight into anti-money laundering programs for virtual currency exchanges and wallet providers.

According to the European parliament draft, geo-blocking has become an issue caused in part by businesses refusing to deal with customers from jurisdictions with high levels of cyber crime.

Many argue that this unjustly affects innocent people located in those areas, who now have less access to EU goods and services than their peers.

Geoblocking is already prevalent in the US, where many bitcoin and digital currency-related businesses block customers living in New York for fear of violating ‘BitLicense’ legislation enacted by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

Gambling sites, largely illegal in the United States, commonly block US-based IP addresses as well.

Border fence image via Shutterstock