US Newspapers Blocked in Europe as EU Privacy Policy Launches

Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune are down right now in most European countries

Last Updated: May 25, 2018 @ 11:45 AM

Looking to read your favorite local paper while on your summer vacation to France? That might not be an option anymore.

Several major U.S. newspapers have blocked readers from their own online sites in Europe, after sweeping new data privacy laws went into effect on Friday. Multiple people in Europe told TheWrap they could not access websites for papers including The Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News and The Chicago Tribune.

Those and many more media outlets have now started greeting readers with a warning that their content is unavailable in European Union countries. The BBC first reported the story.

“Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries,” reads the L.A. Times notification. “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 solution that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.”

The reason for the block? The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which hits companies with big fines for not following certain guidelines on handling user data.

The GDPR aims to make companies more transparent with how data is collected, how its being used, and also forces companies to delete data once its no longer useful. The new regulation applies to every business in Europe, from newspapers to tech companies to banks — and comes with a stiff penalty if it isn’t adhered to. The EU can now fine companies up to 4 percent of their global revenue or 20 million euros, whichever is greater, for violating its policy.

Rather than deal with the potential repercussions, Tronc, the owner of the L.A. Times, and other major media outlets have decided to block its papers in the EU. Lee Enterprises, which owns nearly 50  newspapers in the U.S., has also followed suit.

A Tronc representative did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on if there’s a timeline for when its outlets will be available again in Europe.