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Belgian ISPs may block access to Apple website, iTunes and App Store

Demands for ISPs to block particular websites are usually heard coming from the likes of the MPAA and are related to piracy. But in Belgium, ISPs may be forced to block access to Apple's website and any online services because of a spat over warranties.

Apple offers a one-year limited warranty as standard when you purchase one of its products in-store or online. The company and sales staff encourage a second year of cover under AppleCare Protection Plan or AppleCare+, which of course comes at an additional cost. The issue is, in the European Union consumers are entitled to a two-year warranty as standard and Apple is seen to be disregarding that law.

There have been multiple complaints, lawsuits, and even million-dollar fines related to Apple either not adhering to, or choosing not to make clear this fact in the past. That's what is happening right now in Belgium, with the Federal Public Service Economy filing a complaint against Apple last year and it coming to light publicly this week.

The judge in the case has to decide what action to take against the company, and one of those actions being considered is blocking access to Apple online through an ISP-wide ban.

Doing so would effectively block the sale of Apple products through its online store in Belgium. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Belgium consumers also wouldn't be able to access iTunes or the App Store, all Apple online services would be inaccessible without a workaround. You can imagine Apple would respond quickly if such a plan was put into action. Belgium may be small, but it's not a market Apple would want to lose even temporarily.

The solution is an obvious and easy one: Apple needs to change how it presents warranty options in EU countries. Make it clear two years is standard and allow paid-for warranty extensions to either offer different features or be for the third year instead. Apple clearly doesn't want to do that, but if it's a choice between effectively losing Belgium as a market or losing a few AppleCare+ sales, the company's hands are surely tied.