Blackout of news sites

As a result of the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) coming into effect on May 25, 2018, more than 1,000 U.S. news sites are not available in the EU.

For example, EU residents looking to read will see the following message: “Unfortunately, our website is 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.”

Actions of major news sites

Web pages from the Chicago Tribune and its TV affiliate, WGN-TV, the New York Daily News, the Dallas Morning News, the SunSentinel, and The Virginian-Pilot – all widely read U.S. news sites – display similar messages.

Organizations have had two years to become GDPR compliant. When the Regulation took effect, rather than comply, nearly one-third of U.S. sites blocked European visitors.

“Usually, your media is seen as an example for ours. I think [it] is safe to say that, in Portugal, there’s a big community of people that not only reads the Portuguese media but reads the U.S. press as well on a daily basis,” said Flávio Nunes, a journalist in Lisbon.

Social media posts have blamed both the EU and the U.S. media companies.

“It is naive and wholly irresponsible to think that U.S. news holds no relevance beyond U.S. borders,” said Sarah Toporoff, a program manager for the Global Editors Network. “U.S. brands should be better at knowledge sharing with their European counterparts and learn how to serve audiences within the GDPR’s parameters. Not to do so is quite undemocratic.”

Help for news sites

This news blackout is not about censorship of news on a topic. It is about poor planning and neglect. The GDPR does not prohibit U.S. news sites from providing content to EU residents. It merely provides a new set of rules on how data can be processed and stored. It impacts many people. But it should not stop organizations from providing their services.

News sites and other U.S.-based organizations facing difficulties with GDPR compliance can get help from IT Governance USA’s GDPR EU Representative service. It provides an EU representative for organizations without a physical presence in the EU, helping them adhere to Article 27 of the Regulation. The representative will receive inquiries and complaints from individuals (data subjects), cooperate with regulatory authorities, and hold a record of processing activities, but is not responsible for the organization’s GDPR compliance.

To further help North American organizations with their compliance needs, IT Governance USA is offering a free GDPR webinar series. It kicks off on Tuesday, October 9, 1:00–2:00 pm EDT with ‘Do I need to comply with the GDPR? What North American organizations need to know about data privacy’. Register here