The launch day of wide-reaching new data laws implemented by the European Union saw dozens of United States newspapers blocked to users in Europe as companies struggle to match the requirements of the legislation.
The perhaps unintended consequence became apparent Friday as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws came into force, and saw news websites owned by Tronc and Lee Enterprises greet European visitors. Those trying to access newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, and the Baltimore Sun were met with a landing page stating: “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.”
Almost 50 other local U.S. papers became inaccessible to European Union residents because of the laws, with a landing page saying simply: “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.”
GDPR, European Union legislation designed to restrict businesses from abusing personal data has already made headlines across the continent in recent weeks, as the measures required by the new law have seen internet users bombarded with emails from hundreds of companies asking for permission to continue sending emails in future. Yet the confusing legislation may not even call for this action, as reported by Politico EU, which states many businesses have misunderstood the requirements and are emailing their customers and contacts unnecessarily.
This may be in part because of the way the law is drafted in the characteristically impenetrable style of the European Union. A new mobile app is taking advantage of this, however, reading out the text of the dry 209-page, 57,509-word document in a soothing voice to help users drift off to sleep. Britains’ Daily Telegraph reports the comments of app developer Alex Tew, who said of the soporific qualities of EU law: “New laws aren’t meant to be exciting. That’s not their role. But GDPR could sedate a buffalo.”