Choice wants geo-IP blocking abolished

One of Australia’s peak consumer groups has recommended the Federal Government investigate whether region-coding and charging Australians higher prices for products based on Internet IP address should be banned, in the context of an investigation which has found little justification for average Australian price hikes of 50 percent on technology goods.

In May, following a public campaign on the issue by Labor MP Ed Husic, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications called for submissions to help inform an inquiry into pricing of technology goods and services in Australia, publishing the terms of reference for the initiative on its web site. The results have so far demonstrated a strong groundswell of public anger about ongoing markups on technology goods sold in Australia.

Many of the submissions from users focused on the fact that online stores such as Apple’s iTunes, Valve’s Steam, Microsoft’s Xbox Live, Sony’s PlayStation Network, Amazon’s Kindle store and Adobe’s software store charged Australians higher prices for the exact same software and content than residents of other countries, particularly countries such as the US. Companies such as Microsoft have justified the charges based on the increased cost of doing business in Australia, but in its own submission to the inquiry (PDF), consumer watchdog organisation CHOICE said there was in fact little justification for the price rises and that the legality of geo-IP blocking should be investigated — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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