Newspapers told to stop hassling readers for data

rms-meets-open-sauce-detail-1Open Sauce guru Richard Stallman has said that if publishers want to start making money online then they have to stop hassling users for personal data.

Writing in the Graniad Stallman said that users should be given a way of buying newspapers anonymously, rather than the current system which requires them to sign up for advertising and surveillance, which is both annoying and unjust.

He said that readers were rebelling by installing ad blockers, which cut into the publisher’s surveillance-based income. Some sites were cutting off access to readers unless they accept being spied on.

“What they ought to do instead is give us a truly anonymous way to pay,” he said.

Stallman said that he has never been particularly bothered by ads online, but began using anti-surveillance technology because he objected to mass surveillance.

“I understand how surveillance threatens individuals and democracy. As a side effect, this technology blocks ads that track users,” he said.

There was a way for publishers to charge readers without monitoring their behaviour, they just need to charge for access that should offer the option to pay a small amount anonymously to get an individual story.

“The system should be unlinkably anonymous, meaning that if you pay for one story today and another story tomorrow, the publisher’s site can’t tell that those two transactions were both done by the same person. Alternatively, sites could invite the reader to donate the amount they wish each time they read a story. There are many possible variants,” he said.