The Czech Trade Inspection Authority (ČTI) has announced it has launched procedures against three unidentified online retailers for engaging in unjustified ‘geo-blocking’.
ČTI spokesman Jiri Fröhlich noted that the practise contravenes European regulations that became part of Czech legislation last summer.
“This is the first inspection of Czech companies suspected of geo-blocking,” he said, as cited by the ČTK news agency. “In all problematic cases, the Slovak version of the website did not allow the consumer with a Czech billing address to buy the goods.”
Fröhlich declined to name the companies until proceedings have concluded but said two sold sportswear and one sold undergarments.
Ending geo-blocking is a priority for the European Commission as it tries to create a single market for digital services across the 28-nation bloc. The regulation putting an end to unjustified geo-blocking entered into force on 3 December 2018.
The EU is also targeting unjustified geo-filtering, practices through which online retailers permit customers to access goods and services cross-border but offer different terms or conditions.
Last year, Czech e-shop revenues increased by 15 percent to a record of CZK 161 billion, according to data from Shoptet, which operates 20,000 e-shops, roughly half of the Czech market. Electronics, cosmetics and clothing accounted for the largest share of turnover.
Industries argue that geo-blocking is necessary because they need to tailor their prices to specific domestic markets and banning the practise will raise prices in cheaper markets.