The NYT website is using geo-targeting ad technology to block UK visitors from accessing a news article about the investigation surrounding the alleged UK airline terror plot. The technological self-censorship is an attempt to comply with UK law. The Times’ Tom Zeller explains how the block works and why it’s in place here.
Snip from MSNBC article:
“We had clear legal advice that publication in the U.K. might run afoul of their law,” Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty said Tuesday. “It’s a country that doesn’t have the First Amendment, but it does have the free press. We felt we should respect their country’s law.”
Visitors who click on a link to the article, published Monday, instead got a notice explaining that British law “prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial.” The blocked article reveals evidence authorities have in the alleged plot to use liquid explosives to down U.S. airliners over the Atlantic.
“On advice of legal counsel, this article is unavailable to readers of nytimes.com in Britain. This arises from the requirement in British law that prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial.”
Of course, proxy servers and tools like Tor can help users route around efforts like this. And any number of blogs or other online sources could republish geo-forbidden content. The point here seems to be for the Times to demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with UK law. But determined users can easily route around the restriction.