Enjoying summer in Europe with more digital freedom - EU monitor

EU monitor
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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Source: A. (Andrus) Ansip i, published on Monday, July 23 2018.

Summer is now upon us - and things are getting a lot easier for the digitally minded traveller around Europe.

I almost always travel with my smartphone and tablet. So I know the convenience of getting online at an acceptable connection speed wherever I am, to download and stream my subscribed news, music and TV shows, to do the same things that I would at home without extra cost, without extra hassle.

I am not alone in this. Many thousands of people around Europe, especially younger people, feel the same way. Digital access, ease and convenience are important to them.

How we know that? Simple - we just asked.

When I started in late 2014 as European Commission Vice-President for building a Digital Single Market (DSM), I held a couple of public Twitter Q& A sessions - remember #AskAnsip? - to get a proper sense of the scale of online problems that people were facing.

We also used public consultations over a period of months so that anyone could tell us about their daily digital frustrations, especially when they went across an EU border.

The response was impressive. We heard stories about people getting blocked on shopping websites, being unable to use online services for which they already paid at home, paying high charges for using data on phones - just to name a few.

In all, we heard a lot of complaints, anecdotal evidence and statistics about what was not working. This was really useful. It gave us a much better idea of what we were up against.

And it helped us work out how to fix things - and that is what we have done with the DSM.

So what has changed since we started?

A great deal - and more so this year, after a new law entered into force across all 28 EU countries in April.

It allows people who have signed up to online services in one EU country - for books, music, games, films, drama, sport and so on - to use those services when they are temporarily present in another. It is an important part of our work to break down barriers in the DSM.

So, if you have paid for access rights, say to a film, in your home country, you can watch it if you cross an internal EU border. It means that Portuguese video-on-demand films should be available in France, or French films available in Poland. In the past, subscribers were very often denied this right.

This makes life a lot easier and more convenient for online subscribers on the move around Europe, especially since roaming surcharges became a thing of the past a little over one year ago.

So far, the end of roaming has been a success.

A recent Eurobarometer survey showed that 82% of people who travelled to another EU country over the last year said they had benefitted from the new rules.

Now, people are less likely to say they restricted their mobile use while travelling, in particular by switching off data roaming.

Online shoppers will get some other good news later in the year.

Unjustified geo-blocking, I am pleased to say, is coming to an end.

In early December, this practice will be consigned to history: where people are prevented from buying goods and services online via a website based in one EU country when they (or their credit card) are based in another EU (a good summary here).

All Europeans will be able to shop online freely in the run-up to Christmas, wherever they are in the EU.

Just one more thing, and to repeat what I said in a blog this time last year - please stay safe and secure online.

Summer is when many Europeans travel away from home and perhaps use their mobile devices more than usual. So please don't let your guard down on holiday, don't allow yourself to get hacked just because you're away from your usual environment.

Here's the link that I posted previously for these educational posters from ENISA, the EU's Agency for Network and Information Security. It's all good general advice on cyber-hygiene, for everyone.

I'll be tweeting some more over the next few weeks about digital rights and freedoms that everyone in Europe can enjoy - you can follow the threads at my @Ansip_EU account.

In the meantime, I wish everyone a safe, relaxing - and digitally rewarding - summer.

Another blog soon.

#Ansipblogs