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Snooping fears caused iTunes privacy concerns

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 13 Jan 2006 19:57 User comments (8)

Snooping fears caused iTunes privacy concerns A new feature in Apple's iTunes music software was widely criticised because it collects data on the tracks users select in order to make recommendations on other music tracks to purchase. The MiniStore feature sends the data about a selected track to the iTunes music store just to help make recommendations, but bloggers discovered that it also sends unique identifiers for a computer and iTunes account. Users said Apple had to be more open about data being collected.
The company was quick to respond however to tell concerned users that it doesn't store the collected data. Additionally, Apple does mention in the licence agreement for iTunes that it contacts the Gracenote music database to work out which album is being played via the program. Still though, privacy advocates complained that Apple had not done enough to warn people about the information that was being collected, nor what was being done with the collected data.

"Apple should be clear about its information gathering practices," wrote blogger Marc Garrett, who wrote a journal entry about MiniStore and the data it passes back to Apple shortly after the update. The feature doesn't just collect data on music you bought from iTunes in your playlist either. In the past, Microsoft and RealNetworks have gotten into trouble for similar snooping. However, in those cases, neither disclosed their actions.

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8 user comments

114.1.2006 2:54

IF people had any idea of how much there information was used without their knowledge every single day they would be out of their minds! Just use your credit card to buy something and it goes on a list, have something mailed to you and that information goes on a list... there is nearly no way to stay "private" anymore unless you live in the mountains and never hook up utilities and buy everything with cash! Im a marketing major and the people worried about cr-apple have no idea how much our information is gathered AND STORED many times a day! People need to calm down! Oh, and an update on those who think Apple has not won the War in the MP3 market, some numbers to blow your mind: Stats: * Holday quarter 2005 best quarter on record for Apple (who turns 30 this year) with $5.7 billion total revenue. * 14 million iPods sold during holiday quarter 2005 (far beyond 4.5 million sold during same quarter 2004). Over 100 iPods sold per minute during entire quarter. * 42 million iPods sold since launch in 2001. 32 million in 2005 alone. * 850 million songs sold through iTMS * iTMS has 83% market share Some people on this site dont like the Ipod but guess what.... it's kicking everyone's ass and only increasing in sales! THE SLOPE IN STILL GETTING STEEPER! Ipod rules-

214.1.2006 6:30

I think the main reason people are worrried is that apple might also be collecting info on songs they downloaded illegally.

314.1.2006 8:44

No one doubts the success of the iPod Toast, but its only really now that Apple is picking up some real competition anyway. The iPod will propbably rule for some time yet, but as everything, it'll be taken down and replaced by something else eventually.. it's inevitable in technology. iPod might be the most successful player, but doesn't mean it is the best by any means either. Audio experts have blasted it for the quality in audio playback for example. I do quite like the devices myself tho, as i love the design and UI :-)

414.1.2006 8:49

I think the main reason people are worrried is that apple might also be collecting info on songs they downloaded illegally.
I wouldn't think so, you can't exactly prove with the artist, track and album info of an MP3 file that it is pirated, could have been ripped from a CD for example. Most privacy activists would come down on something like this very agressively because today it could be collecting song info, but if that's allowed.. what about tomorrow? MrToast already pointed out that a ridiclous amount of things do keep track on you and privacyu groups continue to challenge most of these. I think it's more the fear that a corporation like Apple or Microsoft would be allowed to collect data on users and not tell them what they are doing with it, cause when spyware companies do the same... it's considered wrong (especially by Microsoft lol) and in some territories... illegal.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 14 Jan 2006 @ 8:52

515.1.2006 8:17

I used to work at the BestBuy GeekSquad and I can only say that the Ipod was the most common thing we received for repair. 30 - 50 PER WEEK for #1 issue...Hard drive failures, #2 issue.........battery dying after few minutes and various battery issues. #3 issue that isn't covered under warranties is of course the screen scratching so badly that display isn't visible. Ipod is the most inreliable product made and if you are foolish enough to buy one then BUY A WARRANTY as there is an 80% chance you will utilize it. Crap product AND get this.........a couple years ago Apple had a standard policy of 'if the Ipod had problems (like HD or battery) then they would simply replace but apparently they were losing their shirts on that one and now they mandate a repair and will only replace if repair cost exceeds value of the unit. At 50 repairs a week JUST AT THE STORE LOCATION I WORKED AT, that is too much from a consume perspective to buy one. It's a damn fad and trend and 'catchy'. I guess it's cool to buy attractive crap that barely works like it's supposed to. I suggest Creative Zen micro or better yet........SONY's Ipod killer. 279.00 for a 20GB MP3 player that unlike Ipod, will allow you to purchase music on ANY legal site (if buying music is your thing). Ipod won't allow music from Walmart's cheapest 88 cents per song or anywhere else. What crap!!!!!!!! Oh....and the video player was seen just as much as the rest.

615.1.2006 14:19

i think the greatest legal issue involving the ipod ministore is that the means at which the information is sent, and who the information is sent to is a breach of the EULA on the part of Apple. On a PC the info is just simply sent to 2 of apple's servers which is fine, but if you are using a mac and start to use the ministore, your song info is sent to 2o7's website/server, which is a private company hired to collect internet statistics and information. think of it what you may, but it is a breach of the EULA.

723.1.2006 18:57

Anyone here familiar with the Bonjour transponder? THAT is far more intrusive than Apple collecting data on which mp3s you like.

825.1.2006 7:18

I have used iTunes for a long time, like many other people, it turned me on to the simplicity of digital music. I for one will not be updating my version to the latest until Apple explains more about what happens to the data they collect. Obviously Zone Alarm Pro helps allot with this kind of problem, allowing you to decide what you send on a case by case basis, but it doesnt make it right for Apple to extract this data from their majority of clueless users without informing them. PS I cant even reply without losing it, to the idea that Sony is a better option, Rootkit with your audio anyone? DRM slaves!

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