By Renae Reints
August 9, 2018

Anyone in the European Union — including American travelers and ex-pats — receives a blocked screen message when they attempt to access news sources like The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Newsday, Dallas Morning News and The Virginian-Pilot.

Why? A number of major U.S. media companies have rejected rules set by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Instead of changing their privacy practices to comply, organizations such as Tronc, GateHouse Media, and Lee Enterprises have chosen to cut off the European market.

Organizations had two years to prepare for GDPR, which went into effect on May 25 of this year. Many big names — like The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN — were available from the start, but according to NiemanLab, roughly a third of the top 100 U.S. newspapers chose to block European users instead of complying with the new regulations. Two months later, those blocks are still in place.

GDPR requires websites to clearly notify users about what personal data is being collected, obtain consent, and give users the option to have this data deleted. There’s also regulations about policy transparency, data breach notifications, and more. It’s the world’s broadest privacy law, and violating it can result in fines up to 4% of a company’s annual revenue.

For certain media moguls with a mostly local audience, it doesn’t make financial sense for them to put in the effort to reach overseas markets. But this affects Americans who are traveling and Europeans who want to read about small-town tragedies such as the shooting at the Capital Gazette, a Tronc property.

Joseph O’Connor, a self-described “rogue archivist” according to NiemanLab, has been tracking the availability of sites after GDPR closely. His counts find more than 1,000 sites are still unavailable.

Some sites are working to become available in the EU, but a spokesperson from Lee Enterprises told NeimanLabs that they have no plans to comply to GDPR.

“Internet traffic on our local news sites originating from the EU and EEA is de minimis, and we believe blocking that traffic is in the best interest of our local media clients,” said the spokesman.

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