Hit & Run

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Hit & Run commenters often complain when we link to news sites that require registration. Via Romenesko, here's an AP story on the declining effectiveness of registration. (Registration not required)

Some forms require the most basic information, like gender and year of birth. Others ask for what amounts to a personal profile that can include name, birth date, job title, income range, e-mail and home addresses, home phone numbers, and interests and hobbies.

The data can then be used to help publications better know their online readers, and make themselves more attractive to advertisers.

However, some privacy groups are crying foul. Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. says sites will be pushing for even more invasive disclosures as demographic data becomes muddied by peeved users who practice "self-defense" by registering themselves as 110-year-old surgeons from Bulgaria named Mickey Mouse.

"The marketing is becoming less effective, so the marketers are pushing for more invasive registrations," he said. "They know specifically what articles I'm reading, they know all about me, and I know very little about them. It's a complete imbalance of power."

Personally, I hate having to register and it keeps me away from some news sites. But since the transaction is voluntary, I don't see how it has anything to do with "power." Also, what's imbalanced about an organization requiring certain info in return for free content?