Thursday, August 05, 2004

Bug Me Not Firefox Extension: the cyber war continues

Digital Media Minute - Bug Me Not Firefox Extension is a nifty online service that allows you to bypass compulsory registration at many popular sites like Business Week and the New York Times for example. As cool as the service is, it can be annoying to use as once you get to a site that requires registration, you must open a new window to visit bugmenot.

But now a BugMeNot Firefox Extension is available that will make searching this resource possible by simply right mouse-clicking on the site.

This is a paradigmatic hacker solution to a stupid real-world problem. Like most such solutions it's somewhat ethically dubious, and comes with a peculiar risk.

Almost all news sites require registration of some sort now. I could handle this for a few sites across which I used the same authentications, but I can't do it when my username must vary, especially since I regularly use at least 3 machines. It's completely impractical. If the news sites all used the (evil) Microsoft Passport tool I'd be ok with that. If they all agreed on a central authentication authority, I'd be ok with that. Yes, they all want to spam me -- but that's ok. That's what my Yahoo address is for.

So now I'm using BugMeNot. It works very well. It's also something that IE will never be able to do.

Risk? Ahh, there is risk. I'm using the same credentials as many other people. Some of them will use them on not-nice web sites, or may be guilty of crimes of one sort or another. Of course they won't have a fixed IP address, but I do. So when Ashcroft invokes his Patriot act to trace down a credential, they may come for me.

Welome to 2004, 20 years past Orwell's 1984.

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