New York Times Tells Brits They Can't Read Article On UK Terror Case

from the jurisdictional-silliness dept

Questions of legal jurisdiction over online content are nothing new at all. Over the years, we've pointed to plenty of legal cases that raised issues about online publications, and whether the content was liable under local laws in countries outside of where the publisher (or its servers) were based. Unfortunately, there still isn't a general agreement on what laws apply, and that makes things risky. Apparently, the NY Times didn't want to risk any such lawsuit in the UK, so when it published an article yesterday about the British terror case, it used some of its geographic ad targeting technology to also block out visitors from the UK from reading the content. This is to stay on the right side of British laws that "prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial." Of course, the Times then went on to publish an article proudly stating how they blocked the content from UK readers, which makes you wonder how effective the ban really is. By calling attention to it, it seems pretty likely that plenty of folks in the UK will be able to read the same (or similar) content from plenty of other sources. This isn't to call out the Times for the practice, but to question whether such laws are actually still possible in a world with a global internet.

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  1. identicon
    Grant Woodward, 29 Aug 2006 @ 6:30am

    Even the Times doesn't like this

    The NYT hasn't had the best track record recently -- it sat on the US domestic wiretapping story for over a year -- but this still surprises me. And no, not the "banning UK readers" part. Companies are so vulnerable to legal action these days that their protective measures must necessarily be asinine. The real surprise is the Times' "look what we did!" article. It's either one of two things: (a) a gross lapse of judgement by the editors of one of the world's most widely-read newspapers, wherein they forgot that their paper is read outside of New York; or (b) a way to encourage Britons and others to read the article, and to less-than-subtly emphasize the silliness of the situation. Sadly, the way the Times is run now I could put money on either option, but I have to hope that it's B.

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