Registration Required

I just went to read an article on theage‘s website and was notified that soon they’ll start to require registration to read articles. Here’s the note I sent them (no reply expected):

Regarding your soon to be required registration process: It’s a terrible idea. I know a lot of other online newspapers are doing it, but you shouldn’t (and neither should they).

I read hundreds of articles from different online sources every week. I refuse to register for any of them. I don’t want every newspaper in the world to know who I am. I don’t want to waste the time to fill out a survey just to read one article.

I could understand that if people want to read local news, they’ll want to get it from their one local paper, but for every other news type it is better that people are able to get information from a multitude of sources. It’s bad for society to limit people’s available news sources, and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing by requiring registration.

I’d be ok with registering once or twice if that would cover thousands of news sites. Of course, this mythical single sign-on service would have to be 100% secure, and I’m really not sure that’s possible. A system like this is a natural monopoly , so there would need to be even more safe-gards to ensure that whoever is running the single-signon services doesn’t abuse their monopoly. We’ll probably be better off if someone can figure out a way to create a standardized decentralized authentication service. Maybe something like how Jabber‘s authentication works. Until then, I’ll stick with my day pass.