BugMeNot.com: Is it legal or ethical?

For those who don’t know about BugMeNot, it is a database with usernames and passwords for sites that need free registration.

Is such a database legal or ethical?

I would consider it a form of protest against news sites that want demographic information (for marketing purposes) in order to read the paper. It could also be seen as a form of protest against sites that ban anonymous comments (that is, registering in order to comment).

Personally, I like the service, and the fact that the newspapers and sometimes-vindictive moderators aren’t watching my every move and noting every news article I read.

I think it’s unethical. I would highly doubt it to be illegal (but IANAL).

A news source is giving information that it normally charges for, for free. In exchange for this free information it is requiring registration with some demographic information (rarely just an e-mail addy, but I’ve seen it). You don’t like those terms, take it somewhere else. I hope that these websites wise up and learn to not accept addresses from bugmenot.com or get rid of the registration altogether.

I always thought that morphing into an unemployed Paraguayan who lives in a seven-bedroom house was a more effective form of protest. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d put it slightly on the unethical side. Seems to me it’s fair for them to offer their services in exchange for marketing info.

How is it any different than reading the newspaper at a public library? I suppose the paper is being paid for by a person’s tax dollars, but it isn’t like the news articles are free of advertisements once you’re logged in to the site.
I’ve never heard of the site, but I think it’s a great idea. Normally I don’t give out my real info when registering for newspapers or places where I just want to read an article once. I’m becoming more and more irritated with the increasing amount of crap people want to sell to me or think they have to inform me about; if I want something, then I’ll find it myself, I don’t need organizations bothering me and putting my info into some database so it can get a couple extra cents. This isn’t exactly sticking it to The Man, more of a small moral victory.

We just did this.

Unfortunately I am not a market, so I don’t have any marketing information to offer them in exchange. Therefore I have no problems using BugMeNot (Firefox has a menu extension that accesses BugMeNot’s database directly).

Newspapers have registration just because they can, and they like to have a big database of names that they think might be of use sometime in the future. Neither they, nor I, nor you, have any idea what that might be. That should be something of a concern.

The value of the data is also questionable, I certainly never tell these sites a word of truth about who I am for the above reason. So I imagine a sizable proportion of others do the same. There’s nothing illegal about that as I never at any stage sign anything swearing it to be the truth.

I’d say it’s a little unethical. You could always create an email address strictly for this sort of thing and give a fictiitious street address and other info. Personally, I think that the benefit/cost ratio from the newspaper’s point of view is < 1 . But it’s their paper.

Well, the ads sold on the paper aren’t necessarily online and vice versa for one. The more obvious is the part where you don’t have to sign up with the newspaper in exchange for reading it at the library.

Concern? What do you think could be done with a list of nameless email addresses? Spam?
Let’s look at the New York Times Registration Page
[li]Member ID[/li][li]Password[/li][li]Repeat Password[/li][li]E-mail Address[/li][li]Gender[/li][li]Zip Code[/li][li]Income Range[/li][li]Job Title[/li][li]Frequency of Usage[/li][li]Year of Birth[/li][li]Country of Residence[/li][li]Industry of work[/li][li]Job Function[/li][/ol]
It’s almost like they put a chip in my brain! :eek:
I don’t see the invasion of privacy (esp when this is noted as: NYTimes.com respects your privacy, so we will never share any personal information without your consent. ) It’s very obvious that they’re I also don’t see how lying about what your e-mail address could ever be considered ethical.

So, I found an article about papers switching to subscription. (and, ironically, you don’t need a subscription to view it).

Considering we’re debating this on a subscription website, we should understand the need for revenue to keep the product we’re using alive. I’d rather subscribe to a news source just using a bit of info than having to pay money out of my pocket.

Isn’t that sort of like saying that you don’t have a real nickel to pay for the candy, so it’s OK to give a fake worthless nickel to fool the person into selling you the candy? If not, why not?

If you don’t have what they want in exchange for the service, the most ethical thing is to not fool them into giving you the service. The ethical thing is to not partake of the service.

That said, I use the bugmenot extension (it runs on Mozilla as well) all the time. But I have to admit it’s a bit on the unethical side.

Oooo ooo, how do I do this? I’ll have to go and figure it out.

I use BMN fairly regularly, because I think the kinds of questions they ask are intrusive. I’d rather go with the Slate/Box Office Reports type format, where I have to watch an ad before I am allowed to access the article or page I want. They certainly don’t ask me what my birth date or annual income is when I go to the corner box to buy a newspaper.

I think it saves us (meaning those who do not register personal info at websites) and them a lot of time. I don’t have to fill out registration with bogus info and they don’t waste time compiling stats based on that bogus information. Everybody wins!