US news websites lock Europeans out

US news websites sites that lock out Europeans are just applying a band aid to a much deeper privacy wound, suggests GDPR expert

An expert on GDPR has warned that US news websites that have temporarily made their publications unavailable to European readers, are applying a short-sighted approach, and unless they can show that they take their customer’s privacy seriously, they may be the eventual losers.

GDPR may be a European regulation, but it applies to all companies worldwide that process data pertaining to European citizens. And that means US publishers are not immune from the long reach of European regulation if their content is read in Europe.

US news websites including, The Chicago Tribune and LA Times, have posted messages saying they are temporarily unavailable to European countries.

But Abigail Dubiniecki, a specialist in data privacy at My Inhouse Lawyer and Associate at the Henley Business School’s GDPR Transition Programme, warned that publishers who take this approach are just “applying a band aid.”

“GDPR is the high water mark for privacy” she said, but suggested that if companies want to earn the trust of their customers, they have to be seen to be taking privacy seriously.

“There are enough companies that recognise the value of doing business with 500 million European consumers,” she said, “this approach is just laziness and short sighted.”

Ms Dubiniecki also warned that other regions are set to follow the EU approach – Japan, for example is very keen to apply data adequacy protection, while Canada is moving in the European direction. Even in the US, states such as California are following suit.

By not applying adequate privacy standards, Ms Dubiniecki warned that the US is just adding “too many road blocks” between it and the rest of the world.

According to Eve Maler, the VP of Innovation & Emerging Technology at ForgeRock, attitudes are shifting among the US public too. “The Americans have famously over time been the people who will give away data all day long,” she said, “but Americans have become sensitised and more cynical.” A recent survey from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by ForgeRock, found that Americans are the most concerned about misuse of data, with the survey including people from Europe and Asia Pacific as well as the US.

So while some present the decision by US publishers to lock out European readers as an example of European regulation getting in the way of good business sense, the reality may be the opposite, and by not applying suitable privacy regulations, the US is in danger of falling behind, as its companies fail to win the trust of their customers.

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