Belgian influencers win battle over transparency rules
A solution has been found to the issue regarding a new rule that would require Belgian influencers to publicly share their home addresses. The transparency requirement stemming from EU guidance on unfair business practices kicked up a storm earlier this year.
In line with a European directive covering people who do business online, influencers in Belgium were required to share their addresses on social media for transparency reasons. The requirement was contested by several prominent influencers, which resulted in the enforcement of the regulation being postponed until a solution was found that protects their privacy.
A "pragmatic" solution has now been found which gives influencers a practical way to comply with the regulations without having to expose their home address on their channel in the process, State Secretary for Consumer Protection Eva De Bleeker announced on Wednesday morning.
"We worked out a practical and feasible solution that ensures that influencers no longer have to reveal their home address while continuing to guarantee consumers' rights. Those who feel short-changed as consumers will still know where to turn," she said.
As part of the solution, De Bleeker looked to the regulations of business centres. The business federations BeCommerce and Feweb will each open a business centre where influencers can virtually set up shop. They can then list that business address on their social media channels.
A European Directive dating back to 2000 stated that online businesses must provide their business address clearly and directly on the channel on which they communicate to ensure anyone doing business online is as approachable and traceable as someone doing business offline.
However, when the Economic Inspectorate started enforcing these regulations more strictly this summer, many influencers spoke out saying they were worried about their privacy, as most operate from their home address. De Bleeker recognised that this was a case of old rules wringing with new phenomena.
De Bleeker noted that she will raise the matter at a European level to strike a balance between traceability and privacy, but that this solution will remain in place until the EU legislation can be adapted in the longer term.
Belgian YouTuber Acid (Nathan Vandergunst) poses at the award ceremony for the Jamies, the Flemish online video awards. Vandergunst was one of the influencers who spoke out against the Belgian transparency rules © BELGA PHOTO KURT DESPLENTER