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Startups, Media Companies Block European Users in Wake of New Privacy Laws

The internet just got a little bit smaller for users in Europe: A number of startups and big media companies alike started to block anyone from Europe from accessing their websites and services Friday. These drastic measures were in response to new privacy laws enacted in E.U. member countries as part of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP).

The GDRP, which came in effect Friday, mandates disclosures about the way companies utilize the data of their users. Companies also have to allow users to download a copy of their data, and even delete any data they have stored on a user upon request.

These regulations were passed a little over two years ago, but a number of companies clearly weren’t ready: Unroll.me, a popular service that simplifies email unsubscribe functionality, told European users earlier this week that it would delete all of the accounts of its European users, and bar hem from opening new accounts. Web bookmarking and archiving service Instapaper also announced earlier this week that it was shutting down in Europe Friday.

Some bigger media companies also took drastic measures Friday: The websites of the Los Angels Times, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun started to block users from Europe Friday, telling them that they were “engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market,” according to a BBC report.

Other than the Los Angeles Times, which recently changed ownership, all of the papers displaying this note are owned by Tronc, the media conglomerate formerly known as Tribune. Lee Enterprises, a publisher that owns local newspapers in 47 markets, also began to block European visitors from its websites Friday, according to the BBC.

Other publishers reacted with less draconian measures: The Washington Post began offering European readers a new online subscription package Friday. Consumers who pay $3 more a month can now browse the Post’s site ad- and tracking-free.

Online media giants like Facebook and Google have spent a long time getting ready for Friday’s GDRP deadline, but some privacy advocates are taking issue with the way these companies are implementing new privacy protections. A non-profit group called None Of Your Business (NOYB) filed a complaint against Facebook and Google Friday, alleging that the companies are forcing users to consent to the storage and use of their data by not giving them any other way to access their services, Fortune reported Friday.

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