Jeopardy! Eligibility Change a Little Awkward for Trebek

Online privacy laws may be to blame
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2016 8:59 AM CST
Jeopardy! Eligibility Change a Little Awkward for Trebek
Alex Trebek is seen on stage at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in 2010.   (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)

Residents of this North American country can no longer compete on Jeopardy! What is Canada? The TV game show's eligibility guidelines now single out Canadians, saying that "at this time we are precluded from accepting registration information from Canadian residents. We are currently evaluating this matter." The Ottawa Citizen reports potential candidates must take an online test during a once-annual test period, and 2016's test went live in January—with a required ZIP code field; Canadians don't have those. "Wow," the Citizen quips. "And we thought Donald Trump would build that wall, like, after the election." The Toronto Star weighs in, noting, "Alex Trebek may be one of the only Canadians on Jeopardy! next season." Indeed, Trebek hails from Sudbury, Ontario, and holds dual citizenship, NPR reports.

In a response to the Citizen, Trebek says the Canadian exclusion is an "issue affecting my native country and the show I love," and he suggests "Canadian online privacy laws" are responsible for the ban. As far as which law, the Citizen speculates that anti-spam legislation in effect since mid-2014 may be to blame. (Companies must now get express permission to email Canadians, rather than just provide an opt-out.) The Star surveyed government departments to get to the bottom of it and came up empty-handed. A lawyer well-versed in privacy laws says, "These hurdles are very easy to get around" (after all, Microsoft was able to figure it out). Trebek mentions that people are in the contestant pool for 18 months, so there will be Canadians on the show this year. In fact, there will be one competing Monday night. (A Jeopardy! rarity happened in January.)

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