1/3 of top US news sites block EU users rather than comply with GDPR

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More than two months after the GeneralData Protection Regulations (GDPR) went into effect, Nieman Labs is reporting that more than 1,000 US news websites are blocking European Union (EU) users rather than complying with consent rules under the new European legislation.

1/3 of top US news sites block EU users rather than comply with GDPR

Nieman Labs’ reporting relied on tracking data compiled by researcher Joseph O’Connor, who has regularly scanned the news sites since the May 25, 2018, GDPR deadline.

The list includes a third of the top US news sites, including the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Dallas Morning News, Newsday and The Virginian-Pilot.

From the Nieman Labs blog post:

More than two months after the GDPR took effect, hundreds of US news websites — including digital properties operated by Tronc, Lee Enterprises and GateHouse Media — are unavailable in Europe, frustrating many American tourists, business travelers, and ex-pats as well as Europeans interested in news from the States.

1/3 of top US news sites block EU users rather than comply with GDPR

As you can see in the image above from O’Connor’s Twitter page on Wednesday, some news sites — such as Instapaper and Norfolk Daily News in this example — are working toward GDPR compliance and bringing their sites back online.

Marketers respond

Jason Kint, chief executive officer of Digital Content Next, a New York City-based trade association of about 70 premium publishers in the US and Europe, told me via Twitter that “this is a temporary state.”

Kint said, “It’s obviously not good for anyone. What will materially change this is when GDPR enforcement begins and [the] market begins to correct towards a healthier state that respects consumer expectations. But this is still a few companies total right now.”

Kint says Google is to blame. He is one of 4,000 publishers who presented a joint letter (PDF) to Google in April, accusing them of trying to control data from their site visitors without gaining comprehensive consents, and meanwhile entangling them in that liability.

He tweeted to me:

1/3 of top US news sites block EU users rather than comply with GDPR

Dimitri Sirota, chief executive officer of BigID, told me earlier this year that closing off customers or readers is not a good long-term strategy.

“We have seen a number of US companies, most notably high-profile media providers, simply close their doors to EU members and customers leading up to and since GDPR’s implementation,” Sirota said. “In no way is this a beneficial strategy to future organizational success. These companies are essentially putting their heads in the sand to avoid the realities of operating in this modern age of data regulation.”

Sirota said that businesses and media companies should work toward GDPR compliance:

In business, across industries, isolation has proven to be an ineffective strategy in conforming to necessary change. GDPR-style regulations are likely coming to the US, and cutting oneself off from Europe can’t stop evolution. Instead of avoiding the situation, companies should be using GDPR as an opportunity to usher in better management and governance of user data, and take steps toward truly understanding their most important asset. This approach will improve business processes and future revenue generation opportunities. By cutting off EU users altogether, companies are taking the approach of placing a band aid on an open wound — exposing themselves to significant organization health risks down the road.

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