NY Daily News, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times are just some of the big name online news outlets that have blocked visitors from EU countries. If a user tries to visit these sites they are met with the same error message from publisher Tronc:
“Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market.”
“We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.”
Lee Enterprises, which owns nearly 50 newspapers across the US has also blocked EU users from its websites.
Other US Sites Following Suit
GDPR has been blamed for this US website embargo, it would seem two years was not long enough for these organisations to prepare. GDPR was adopted on 14 April 2016, however, it only came into force as of 25 May 2018. Similar messages are being encountered elsewhere, sites owned by the entertainment brand A+E, which owns A&E, Lifetime and History redirecting users to the URL https://eunotice.aenetworks.com where they will be told: “this content is not available in your area.”
Pinterest owned Instapaper, a newspaper app that allows the user to save articles for later, has announced this week it would be unavailable for users in the EU while it makes changes in light of GDPR. Other US sites, which thought they were likely to fail GDPR, have adopted a blanket policy by deciding to pull the plug on their European audience.
Easier to Block Users Rather than Face Fines
Under the new legislation, websites need to get explicit permission for each use of data and companies must be more transparent about how they store and use personal data. In the instance of a data breach, the company must inform any users affected by it within 72 hours. Companies that fail to comply face weighty fines or forfeiting up to 4% of their global revenue.
US companies are not the only ones in a flap over the new regulations, more than one third of UK businesses felt unprepared for the compliance date. Just hours before GDPR came into effect the ICO website crashed for more than two hours due to the high influx of users trying to visit the site and to download a PDF guide to the new legislation.