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Britons face block on Netflix and Spotify accounts abroad under no-deal Brexit

UK News | Published:

Government technical papers say that EU laws allowing UK citizens to access their UK-based accounts on the continent would be stripped away.

The Crown

British travellers heading to the European Union could be blocked from using their Netflix and Spotify accounts under a no-deal Brexit, technical papers have warned.

Online sports, video games and e-books could also be unavailable if no Withdrawal Agreement is reached, according to Government documents released on Friday.

Access to some websites and services like cloud storage based in the 27-nation bloc could also be blocked or have limited availability in the UK if EU laws are stripped away in March, they revealed.

Under the EU-wide “portability regulation” agreed in 2017 and in force since April, citizens can access entertainment accounts set up and based in one country while visiting other member states.

This allows Britons to use accounts for popular apps like Netflix and Spotify abroad, and continental citizens to access services like the French CanalPlay and MyTF1, while on holiday or a business trip, with firms using various data to analyse users’ home nations.

The Crown
Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret in Netflix series The Crown (Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix/PA)

This allows travellers to keep up to date with popular Netflix series including The Crown, Stranger Things, The Good Place and Making A Murderer, plus their favourite music, while abroad.

When it was announced by the EU it said it would cover “films, sports events, e-books, video games or music services”.

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But a paper on copyright warns that this regulation would disappear for Britons in a no-deal scenario.

“The portability regulation will cease to apply to UK nationals when they travel to the EU,” it warned.

“This means online content service providers will not be required or able to offer cross-border access to UK consumers under the EU Regulation.

“UK consumers may see restrictions to their online content services when they temporarily visit the EU.”

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Spotify app redesign
Spotify could also be affected by the changes under a no-deal Brexit (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A second technical paper warns that no-deal would strip away the EU Geo-Blocking Regulation that takes effect in December.

The law will prohibit businesses and traders from discriminating against citizens purchasing goods and services online based on their nationality or place of residence in the EU.

“Following repeal of the Geo-Blocking Regulation in the UK, traders from the UK, EU and third countries would not be prohibited from discriminating between EU customers and UK customers,” it said.

The regulation deals with purchases such as those of goods online and electronically supplied services such as web hosting or cloud storage.

UK traders wishing to operate within the EU would still have to abide by the regulations, however.

“The Geo-Blocking Regulation will continue to operate in the EU. UK traders who wish to continue operating in the EU will continue to be bound by the provisions of the Geo-Blocking Regulation when dealing with EU customers,” the notice said.

“This means that a UK trader will not be able to discriminate between customers in different EU member states, for instance between a French and a German customer.”

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