GDPR chaos as many US news sites temporarily unavailable in EU

25 May 2018

The Los Angeles Times homepage. Image: chrisdorney/Shutterstock

Several high-profile US news websites have been taken offline in Europe as the GDPR deadline arrives.

The long-awaited GDPR deadline has finally come, but it seems to be causing some issues already for major media sites based in the US.

The Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News and the Chicago Tribune are among the outlets posting messages to notify European users of their current unavailability.

Looking for a solution

Under the sweeping EU regulation, companies working in or associating with the EU in any way must obtain explicit consent from users in order to collect personal data, or otherwise face heavy financial penalties.

News sites from within the Lee Enterprises and the Tronc group have been affected. Lee Enterprises publishes 46 newspapers on a daily basis across 21 US states and it said in a statement: “We’re sorry. This site is temporarily unavailable. We recognise you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU, which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and therefore cannot grant you access at this time.”

A message from the Los Angeles Times read: “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.”

GDPR fines worrying firms

Other US outlets such as The New York Times have been asking users to agree to new terms in order for them to continue accessing the sites.

This disruption could be the beginning of major headaches for companies as they struggle to adapt to the extensive EU rules. The threat of fines of up to €20m (or 4pc of a company’s global turnover, whichever is higher) means many firms will need to rethink large elements of their business model in order to continue to do business with the bloc.

Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon told that GDPR awareness among businesses in Ireland has increased. “I am hugely encouraged by the results of our awareness survey and by the strong engagement we have had with so many organisations in the last year,” Dixon said.

“Together, we can put Ireland on the map as a country that implements and upholds the highest standards of protection of personal information.”

The Los Angeles Times homepage. Image: chrisdorney/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects