Blown To Bits

Neat–And Possibly Criminalizing–Web Site of the Day

Sunday, November 30th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

Ever get irritated that you have to register with a Web site to see something? When what you’re looking for is a one-off, and you have no reason to think you’ll ever want to go back to the site again, it’s annoying to have to supply an email address and other information with which you can be spammed and otherwise hounded later on.

Enter bugmenot. Type in the URL of a site requiring registration, and it gives you back a handle you can use to get into the site. A great privacy-preserver.

Ethical? You decide. But I’ll bet almost every heavy Web user has used some deceptive measure to avoid being tracked (for example, a fake name or an email address reserved only for these registration demands).

Ethical or not, it looks like using this site could set you up for doing some hard time in a federal penitentiary. Lori Drew was convicted of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act because the jury deemed that by creating a fake identity as a boy, she had gained “unauthorized access” to the servers of MySpace, whose Terms of Service state that registration information must be truthful. By that logic, anyone using bugmenot is setting themselves up for indictment on the same charge.

The implications of the Drew decision are breathtaking. It looks like the federal government is getting into the business of enforcing truth-telling even in purely social uses of the Web.

One Response to “Neat–And Possibly Criminalizing–Web Site of the Day”

  1. Blown to Bits » Blog Archive » “A Case that Cried Out for Someone to Do Something” Says:

    [...] that lying to MySpace on its registration form was sort of the same thing. By that standard, as we noted on this blog, everybody would be a federal criminal — especially as most social networking sites reserve [...]