The New York Times website published an article on Monday that detailed information about the men allegedly involved in the terror plot to blow up airliners en route to the U.S., including some of the evidence held by British authorities.
While the article was accessible to people around the world, visitors from the UK saw a message stating that, according to British law, the NY Times couldn’t publish information that may affect the defendants’ impending trial. The NY Times used the same geo-targeting technology used to target regional advertising to block UK visitors from reading the article.
Geo-targeting technology interprets a visitor’s unique IP address and can determine where the machine they’re using is located. The Inquirer, a European tech news site, called the NY Times’ geo-blocking attempt a failure, citing instances where individuals from Ireland, Canada, and Australia were blocked also.
It’s no secret that the NY Times’ effort has holes in it, since it’s relatively easy for a web surfer to use a non-regional IP through a proxy server. The article has also been republished though NY Times snippets on blogs and other websites, and search engine caching. The NY Times also blocked access to an audio news summary which included the article and removed it from UK versions of the printed newspaper.