No, not for the reasons you might think.
The Times wants this much information, just to be allowed to read their articles:
- username and password (duh)
- password recovery question and answer
- email address
- ZIP code
- nation of residence
- household income
- job title
This is all required. For all they know, you could be lying through your keyboard, but they still require so much information.
Once you get past the registration, the Times and its affiliates will track your activities with the following:
- cookies (used by the Times)
- transparent GIF’s (a.k.a "web beacons" or "web bugs," used by the Times’ ad partners)
As a security measure, most web browsers can pop up alert boxes when a website sets a cookie. I do not know of any browsers that provide a similar measure for web bugs.
For all the ruckus the Times raised about the NSA and communication surveillance, it seems "odd" that they do so much of their own tracking.