Apple's iTunes update gets vetted for spyware like feature

Apple's iTunes update gets vetted for spyware like feature

Summary: By way of ZDNet reader "Tic Swayback" who responded to today's post about the questionable behavior of Apple's RSS technology, we have a link...

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TOPICS: Apple
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By way of ZDNet reader "Tic Swayback" who responded to today's post about the questionable behavior of Apple's RSS technology, we have a link to Boing Boing where Cory Doctorow and his readers have spotted even more questionable spyware-like behavior in the lastest iTunes update without enough or properly positioned disclosure on what sort of information Apple is collecting:

Yesterday, I blogged about Apple's latest iTunes update, which, by default, switches on the "MiniStore," an advertising/recommendation section that uses your current song-selection to recommend other songs that you can buy from Apple. In order to accomplish this, it must transmit your listening habits to Apple.... The problem is that Apple doesn't inform you when you update your iTunes that you're also turning on a system that transmits your private information to Apple and third-party partners. There's no indication (apart from the recommendations) that this is going on, nor is there any information about what Apple will do with that information.

In the comments under Doctorow's post, his readers tear apart the data stream with their protocol analyzers and report their findings.  Meanwhile, in something of an acknowledgement that the data is being sent to Apple, Steve Jobs claims that his company isn't retaining the data.  My take: Microsoft was crucified for potential privacy incursions before its Passport technology ever made it out the door.  What standard should Apple be held to here or is this like Apple's digital restrictions management technology that iPod and iTunes users (in what we don't know can't hurt us fashion) can't seem to absorb enough of, or care less about?

Topic: Apple

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3 comments
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  • They should rightly be attacked

    I don't think this is a major abuse, it's not like they're doing
    anything horribly harmful with the data, but it is an abuse
    nonetheless. And it's particularly bad in that it's the default
    setup for the new version of iTunes, and there's no notification
    that this is happening.

    If they want to do it, fine, but it should either be opt-in, or it
    should come with a warning label that immediately lets you opt
    out, rather than having to figure out how to turn off that
    particular "feature".
    tic swayback
  • Oh My God

    The Sky is Falling. Apple IS the devil.
    PXLated
  • Well, they should get slapped around a bit

    Granted, this isn't even in the same league (much less the same ball park) as Sony's malicious spyware, but it should have been done on an opt-in basis only nevertheless.

    As for the Digital Restrictions Management in iTunes: I don't think much of it either (although it's less obnoxious that some DRM schemes), but since I back up all my iTunes purchases to audio CDs anyway, it doesn't much matter.
    the_doge