understanding the importance and impact of anonymity and authentication in a networked society
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Don't have an account. I'll use a shared one.

posted by:Stefan Popoveniuc // 11:59 PM // April 03, 2007 // ID TRAIL MIX

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It is generally believed that you have to take the extra step to protect your privacy: look for the SSL lock on your browser, shred your old bank statements, scan your computer for key loggers etc. Convenience and easy of use are often regarded as antagonists to security or privacy. I have recently come to discover a useful website that seems to contradict this paradigm.

Remember all those popular websites that force you to register just because you want to read the entire article, user comments or download some piece of free software? They all claim that the registration process is simple but you often find yourself entering your email address, gender, full or partial postal address, phone number and at the end they ask you to fill out a survey with how many hours you spend on the internet each month, what’s your income level, age, education and so on. But probably most important, you tend to set your password from the two-three passwords that you use on tens of websites. Clearly an exposure of what you consider to be private information.

www.bugmenot.com has a collection of public usernames and passwords for some of the most popular sites that require free registration for accessing their free content. Some of the popular websites are: www.nytimes.com www.washingtonpost.com www.imdb.com etc. A Firefox extension makes logging in to these websites a breeze: right click ->login with BugMeNot. Click-clack, you’re in.

Don’t get me wrong, customizing your account and leaving comments with your reserved username is always good, but most of the times you just want to read the end of article. And you simply don’t want to have yet another site know one of your “secret” passwords :)

*The author has absolutely not affiliation with BugMeNot.com, except for sharing the same Internet.

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