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Media (Apple) Media Privacy

Apple Responds to iTunes Spying Allegations 385

Posted by Zonk
from the harmless-fruit dept.
daveschroeder writes "According to MacWorld and BoingBoing: 'An Apple spokesman (reliable word has it that it was Steve Jobs himself) told MacWorld that Apple discards the personal information that the iTunes Ministore transmits to Apple while you use iTunes. [...] Apple tells us that the information is not actually being collected. The data sent is used to update the MiniStore and then discarded.' Apple also has a knowledge base article, which apparently was available the day iTunes 6.0.2 was introduced, explaining the MiniStore behavior and how to disable it: 'iTunes sends data about the song selected in your library to the iTunes Music Store to provide relevant recommendations. When the MiniStore is hidden, this data is not sent to the iTunes Music Store.'" The discussion about this topic was fast and furious yesterday.
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Apple Responds to iTunes Spying Allegations

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  • This is just fud (Score:2, Interesting)

    by filenavigator (944290) *
    This spying news with iTunes sounds more like jealous FUD coming from their competitors.
    • by MountainMan101 (714389) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:29AM (#14455013)
      The info it was supposedly spying on (what music you bought - it was used to make suggestions for other people) can be obtained perfectly easily by logging your purchases. For example Amazon offers me "suggested titles" and also uses my purchases to tell others "people who bought ... also bought ...", and they do that without using spyware to look at my bookshelf :-)

      Now if iTunes spied on the music you ripped then that might be news, but still not that important. I mean all they'll do is say "people who have Take That mp3s also buy other tasteless crap" etc.

      In short, yes, FUD.
      • You are mistaken. It collects information about music in your library, not just what you've purchased.
      • This is true if all of your purchases are through ITunes. But if you use ITunes for just music you ripped off of CD's, then purchase information would be insufficient. I don't know about most people but probaly > 95% of my music I use on my IPod came off my own CD's, not from ITunes.
    • by freidog (706941) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:10PM (#14455449)
      If this were windows media player (again - it phoned home when you played DVDs, and was resoundly condemded in many circles) there wouldn't be a person on slashdot without a torch or pitchfork.

      The fact that Apple is more often viewed as being product and customer centerned than a tyrannical monopoly is the only reason people will defend this kind of activity.

      Apple was taking your personal information about your personal music being played on your personal computer and sending it back to themselves. Basic common courtesy dictates you ask people for personal information, you don't take it. The fact Jobs says he's not being malevolent is nice, but doesn't change the fact Apple somehow felt entitled to know what music you're playing on iTunes at any given time.

      One dialog box, "Is it ok to send information about the music you're playing so we can better recommend purchases for you?" is all it takes. That one little question makes this a nice features instead of an invasion of privacy.
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:44PM (#14455856)
        "Sending information to Apple" implies that it's kept, tracked, logged, or aggregated somehow. I submit that it is not.

        Everything we can see from a technical standpoint and a logical standpoint indicates that there is nothing more happening than a custom WebObjects query to update the recommendations section of the MiniStore.

        Now, a bunch of people will keep saying "yeah, but how do we *know* they're not keeping it" or "you would be a fool if you thought they *weren't* keeping it, no matter what they say", but the fact is that iTunes is a highly customized, dynamic web browser - nothing more.

        Now, you might think ANY time any information is outbound from your computer, that it constitutes "sending" it to someone. I take issue with this, because, again, it implies it's being taken and kept. I think there is a difference, and that intent matters. Apple did not try to hide this [slashdot.org], and while I agree it would have been a good idea to at least ask politely (and give a clear option to decline), I don't think there is any malicious intent here whatsoever.
      • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:21PM (#14456234) Homepage Journal
        If this were windows media player (again - it phoned home when you played DVDs, and was resoundly condemded in many circles) there wouldn't be a person on slashdot without a torch or pitchfork.

        Very true. At least here Apple comes out and explains what it is doing and manages to reasure people. What I often hear from Microsoft when something like this happens is either silence or some sort of arrogant remark. Microsoft could deal with their PR battles with a little more grace than they have up to now.
      • by pknoll (215959) <slashdot.pk@noSPAM.grapefish.org> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:24PM (#14456277)
        The fact that Apple is more often viewed as being product and customer centerned than a tyrannical monopoly is the only reason people will defend this kind of activity.

        Well, isn't that a good enough reason to treat them differently or give more doubt benefit than a company who DOES behave like a tyrannical monopoly?

        Humans judge most entities they are familiar with based on expectations formed by past experience. If Apple shows a history of not mistreating them or falling short of their expectations, and other companies have, I would fully expect Apple to be cut more slack than a company that HAD failed them.

        Perception is reality, by and large. If all you've ever had with, say, Microsoft were good experiences and Apple burned you over and again, you'd be willing to cut MS more slack than Apple if you found they'd engaged in questionable activities.

        Do you think people are more forgiving of Apple because they like Apple, or like them because they have few reasons to be skeptical of their motivations?

      • by fdiskne1 (219834) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:13PM (#14456827)

        If this were windows media player (again - it phoned home when you played DVDs, and was resoundly condemded in many circles) there wouldn't be a person on slashdot without a torch or pitchfork.

        I agree wholeheartedly. If you remember the Sony-BMG debacle (who doesn't?), one of the things people were up in arms about was that the software phoned home. People on /., among many others, rightly complained that it sent information back to Sony without the customer's permission. Sony said they didn't keep the information, but people rightly said that it didn't matter if they kept it or not. The problem was that it was sent without our permission. Yes, there were many other aspects to the Sony-BMG fiasco, but this was one of the issues. According to many comments on /., the fact that Apple is doing it seems to make it okay. It is NOT okay. This should have been clarified up front with the default to "don't transfer my information to Apple".

    • I agree completly. Itunes is completly free. All Apple is trying to do is generate more itunes music store purchases by making the choices more relevant to what your currently listening to.

      Google has done the same thing with adsense by taking what your searching for and displaying adds relevant to what your looking for.

      This will blow over real soon as its not a big deal. If you really care about it, I would suggest disabling the feature or using a product from a company / group that is not trying to
  • In retrospect ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:24AM (#14454962) Journal
    They could have avoided a lot of complaints if they had simply made a feature you could enable--not a feature you have to disable.

    If you install a piece of software and it starts to gathering information about you, it's called spyware even if there's some magic button combination or option that turns it off. Until it is turned off, it's spyware. I don't understand why the default setting isn't "off" but I guess that was Apple's decision and now they'll catch flack for it.
    • Re:In retrospect ... (Score:2, Informative)

      by BuR4N (512430)
      "They could have avoided a lot of complaints if they had simply made a feature you could enable--not a feature you have to disable."

      I think those complaning is in minority, and those in the majority would miss out a feature that actually could be quite handy...
    • Re:In retrospect ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by non0score (890022) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:34AM (#14455069)
      Not arguing with you, but I think the idea is that most users will not enable it, and it will be difficult to perform the statistical (as clarified now) data collection and analysis that Apple does. So Apple opted to enable the automatic collection and hope that people will accept their explanation (which, I think, most people will accept). If need be, Apple has information readily-available on how to disable it for people who're really protective of their privacy (if they believe it's violated).
      • Not arguing with you, but I think the idea is that most users will not enable it, and it will be difficult to perform the statistical (as clarified now) data collection and analysis that Apple does.

        Hey, they already know what you bought from iTunes. Is it even their business what you play otherwise? And without giant warnings of what they're doing? I don't think so.

        Since when did you ever think Apple was your friend in the first place?

        • I understand your angle, but for me not every song I buy has the exact same rankings in my preferences. But how much I play them tends to indicate how much I like the songs, and this is data.

          I'm not saying that Apple is my friend or I'm promoting these practices. But if done right, privacy can be ensured and introduce a level of service that can't be had without these information. For example, if a product never gets feedback, then how would the developers know how well it's doing? Similarily, Apple needs
      • by Mr_Silver (213637)
        Not arguing with you, but I think the idea is that most users will not enable it, and it will be difficult to perform the statistical (as clarified now) data collection and analysis that Apple does.

        To get around this, Apple should have popped up a dialog box the first time which says something along the lines of "iTunes can recommend new music based on what you are currently playing. This feature requires that the songs you play are sent to the server. Would you like to turn this feature on?" to which the

      • Not arguing with you, but I think the idea is that most users will not enable it, and it will be difficult to perform the statistical (as clarified now) data collection and analysis that Apple does.

        Wah, someone can't collect stats on something that they have NO RIGHT to collect anyway. My movements, purchase habits, etc that are tracked during visits to the iTunes Music *Store* are one thing. My movements, listening habits, etc that could be tracked by their INDEPENDENT player are something else.

        People ne
      • Not arguing with you, but I think the idea is that most users will not enable it, and it will be difficult to perform the statistical (as clarified now) data collection and analysis that Apple does.

        Absolutely right. Most users wouldn't enable it. Some of them wouldn't enable it because they didn't go looking through options, and some of them wouldn't enable it because it's of no benefit to them.

        Automated data collection is rarely for the benefit of users. It's perfectly understandable that people get

        • >Automated data collection...

          there is no automated data collection. there is just click-based searching. get a freaking clue.

          bandwidth!? cpu!? you'd have 100 dialogue boxes on every website - "do you want to load our banner image? do you want to load our frame containing menu items? do you want to launch...".

          the ministore is a minibrowser where your songs you click on are links to searches for relevant info.
      • Re:In retrospect ... (Score:3, Informative)

        by tfoss (203340)
        it will be difficult to perform the statistical (as clarified now) data collection and analysis that Apple does.

        What collection and analysis? From everything I've seen, they collect nothing, but query a server that uses the ITMS data set to retrieve recommendations.

        -Ted

    • by DaggertipX (547165) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:34AM (#14455072) Homepage
      You seem to miss the point of this statement. According to their claims, it is NOT gathering information about you. As in - the feature, even when it is on, is not doing any form of audit on your song collection.
      Ever google band information about a band you're listening to? That is more likely to capture data about you than this would.
      Now the next question is whether we trust Apple to be true to it's word about this. If they are lying about this, I would be more concerned with them lying, than with any data they would get from my collection.
      Personally, I don't have any reason to mistrust them at this point, as even the dark side of any conspiracy theories about this are fairly harmless, in my estimation.
    • Well, I know that when I fired up iTunes after updating, I saw the ministore down there, decided I didn't care to see it, and clicked the little hide/minimize icon underneath it. Wow it was tough to get rid of it!
    • by chriss (26574) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:36AM (#14455089) Homepage
      They could have avoided a lot of complaints if they had simply made a feature you could enable--not a feature you have to disable.

      If they had done that, most people would never have realized that the option exists. If there wasn't a podcast icon on the left side, many people would never have found the option. Better to ask during installation: "iTunes 6.0.2 offers a new option to display recommendations from iTMS matching the music your are playing. For this iTunes has to send the trackname of the current title to iTMS. These informations will only be used to change the MiniStore and be discarded afterwards. Do you want to activate this function [Yes/No]"

      Chriss

      --
      memomo.net [memomo.net] - brush up your German, French, Spanish or Italian - online and free

      • by BasilBrush (643681)
        Yuk! I don't think so. A pointless question. Better to let the user see what it is, then if he decides he doesn't want it he can disable it in his own time by a single click.

    • by BasilBrush (643681)
      Bad idea. Few users would have discovered it if it was initially disabled.

      No software is "gathering" information about you. Gathering implies storing, and it isn't stored. It's simply a query to the iTMS database for a particular artists tracks.

      There's a mania these days about privacy issues, that's going to look as silly as the McCarthy witch hunts or Political Correctness in years to come. The REAL abuses of privacy are in danger of being buried under a pile of complains about things that aren't an is
    • They could have avoided a lot of complaints if they had simply made a feature you could enable--not a feature you have to disable.

      From file menu on iTunes on a Mac:

      iTunes > Provide iTunes Feedback

      Apple listens so let them know it was an unwelcomed default feature.
  • Non-issue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by millennial (830897) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:24AM (#14454967) Journal
    I've noticed that iTunes suggested music to me before. However, it was only related to what I currently had in my shopping cart. It never much bothered me.
    • Re:Non-issue (Score:3, Informative)

      by millennial (830897)
      Also, even if this is related to the song you're currently listening to, I still think it's a non-issue. If you look at something on Amazon, you'll see recommendations for similar or related items. The same basic rule applies.
      • No matter how nifty a feature is, I'd rather not send information I don't have to from my computer by default. It's just good practice.
        • In other words, there is no reason not to send it in this case. But you like to force things into pigeon holes of "spyware" and "not-spyware" even if the particular thing has no negative side to it. Such an approach is doomed to failure in the coming world of web-services.
  • by StupidHelpDeskGuy (636955) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:26AM (#14454983) Journal
    "reliable word has it that it was Steve Jobs himself" then why not cite the source?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:29AM (#14455010)
    You can always trust what Steve Jobs says,
    "We will NOT be releasing a video iPod"........
  • by glesga_kiss (596639) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:29AM (#14455016)
    Apple discards the personal information that the iTunes Ministore transmits to Apple while you use iTunes. [...] Apple tells us that the information is not actually being collected.

    Release the source of the server app and then we might believe you. We've all heard the "not actually collected" bit many times. Sony first tried to deny this particular privacy invasion in their rootkit, yet later they were caught out. Unique URLs combined with IPs, what more do you need?

    Frankly, if I were writing such a service, logging some of the most financially valuable market research you get your hands on is a given. There wouldn't be any debate on the issue, you log it and sell it! And if you are morally sound, you offer it as an opt-on program and be honest about it.

    • by cmdr_beeftaco (562067) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:50AM (#14455245)
      If this music tracking information allows us to nab a single terrorist on US soil to is worth the relatively small price. An Apple spokesman (reliable word has it that it was Steve Jobs himself) said several terrorist cells were identify after a nefarious pattern of Dixie Chicks downloads was mined from their database.

      Folks post-9/11 America cannot expect due process or privacy. Danger lurks in the shadows and casting a blinding light down the alleys of American pop culture is the only way to find this enemy.

    • Let me get this straight: if you don't trust Apple to tell the truth about whether they collect information in the first place, why would you trust that the source code they release is the code that's actually running their server? Releasing it doesn't seem to gain them any credibility, and it does open up lots of very valuable proprietary code in a market filled with willing competitors.
    • If you don't trust them, turn off the feature. It has already been verified by people with software firewalls that nothing is transmitted when you hide the mini store bar. I'm sure someone could easily verify that the only things sent to the server are song name and artist which are used to query the database for similar song types to the song you just clicked on.

      Do you really think they would want to store that much information? Even if they did, if the request does not have any information specific to y

  • Apple could have avoided the hullaballoo over this by making it clear from the start that this was going on. The only reason anyone got up-in-arms over it was the apparent lack of straightforward documentation on how the system worked and what a user's rights are. Now everyone knows and Apple should make sure everyone knows in the future.End of story.
    • Re:Damage Control (Score:5, Informative)

      by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:39AM (#14455128)
      Disclaimer: I am the article submitter.

      This is not "Damage Control". They did make it clear. The knowledge base article [apple.com], available the day iTunes 6.0.2 was release, specifically said:

      iTunes sends data about the song selected in your library to the iTunes Music Store to provide relevant recommendations. When the MiniStore is hidden, this data is not sent to the iTunes Music Store.

      In addition, the day iTunes 6.0.2 was released, http://www.apple.com/itunes/ [apple.com] said:

      Discover Music

      Discover new music as you enjoy your collection or import new CDs -- with MiniStore.


      and http://www.apple.com/itunes/playlists/ [apple.com] said:

      Discover New Music

      Looking for some new tunes? Tap into the 2-million-song treasure chest of the iTunes Music Store through the new MiniStore. While you're browsing your own library or importing a new CD, MiniStore appears at the bottom of the iTunes window and shows you other albums from your favorite artists and artists like them. You can even see reviews of these albums plus what other listeners who like this artist purchased -- so you'll never be at a loss for new music to discover. When you're ready to go back to full-screen mode, click an icon and MiniStore tucks away, ready to pop up again later when you want to explore some more.


      and

      MiniStore

      Discover new music as you enjoy your collection or import new CDs with MiniStore -- right from your iTunes library.


      Further, the MiniStore actively changing as you click different tracks in iTunes might give a small hint that something is happening.

      Now, if you're saying that Apple should have had some kind of a dialog box come up when you first upgraded to and launched iTunes 6.0.2 explaining this and giving a clear option to simply opt to not use the new MiniStore, sure, I'll agree that would have likely been better. But Apple wasn't hiding this, and this isn't damage control, other than the fact that if enough blogs keep (incorrectly) asserting that Apple is "spying" on you, then it isn't long before some mainstream media picks the (incorrect) story up.
      • We know that the data is sent to servers at iTMS. This much is assured. What we don't know is what happens to it there. Apple has announced that the data is used to create a recommendation and then it is discarded. This can not be verified. If it is discarded, are metrics being collected about which recommendations are the more common? In other words are the results of the discarded data being collected? I expect so, but it is speculation. The data collected is such a fashoion would likely be anonym
      • This is not "Damage Control". They did make it clear. The knowledge base article, available the day iTunes 6.0.2 was release, specifically said:

        Yeah, I always go to the KB when I'm installing new software. Doesn't everybody?

        Discover new music as you enjoy your collection or import new CDs -- with MiniStore.

        No doubt BabelFish translates that to: This app sends back all the information to Apple on everything you play so that they can guess about what they might be able to sell you next. But they promi

        • As the Original Poster, you haven't made your case very well here I must say.

          Submitting a story to slashdot hardly requires someone to pick a side. It is merely a solicitation for discussion.
      • Re:Damage Control (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Billosaur (927319) *
        Now, if you're saying that Apple should have had some kind of a dialog box come up when you first upgraded to and launched iTunes 6.0.2 explaining this and giving a clear option to simply opt to not use the new MiniStore, sure, I'll agree that would have likely been better. But Apple wasn't hiding this, and this isn't damage control, other than the fact that if enough blogs keep (incorrectly) asserting that Apple is "spying" on you, then it isn't long before some mainstream media picks the (incorrect) story
  • by Moby Cock (771358) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:31AM (#14455031) Homepage
    From the article: The good news is, Apple tells us that the information is not actually being collected. The data sent is used to update the MiniStore and then discarded. If you think about it, this makes sense--imagine the size of the data files they would accumulate with millions of users and what must be hundreds of millions of songs played each day. But Apple should tell us as much, so that we can all relax a bit about sharing our listening habits with Apple.

    That sounds like the amount of data the Google collects daily and has done for months. That sort of information would be a treasure trove to record companies and marketing execs. Apple has said that they are not keeping the data, and I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt here. However, when a weak (or fallacious) argument like the one above is used it gives me pause.
    • I'm quite happy that if they say they are not keeping it, then they are not. But IF THEY WERE collecting this information in terms of totals which are useful to record companies marketing, can anyone explain what damage this would cause to individuals?
      • Where is the harm? Probably no specific and direct harm will come of this. Nobody is going to suffer, however many fear that these sorts of programs have positioned consumers on the top of a slippery slope. We all have a right to privacy, that is, our business is ours and we choose whom we share it with. As of late, many companies have chosen to monitor and track and statistically analyse our behaviour often without consent. Where this will lead, is very worrisome to many people. Optimists hail it as
  • nothing new here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PureCreditor (300490) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:33AM (#14455054)
    Google scans your emails for ads, Amazon tracks your order history for recommendations, credit card company analyze your transactional pattern to offer balance transfer promotions....

    it's all about tayloring for each customer.

    provided Apple is not *sharing* this data with 3rd-parties, I don't find anything wrong with internal data mining.
    • Re:nothing new here (Score:5, Informative)

      by Daedala (819156) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:53AM (#14455284)
      The packets are being sent to a third party. [since1968.com] This has been reported from the beginning. Omniture [omniture.com] is not noted in the iTunes EULA the way, say, Gracenote CDDB is. Even if Apple isn't saving the information, what do we know about Omniture? We have no policy from them on this issue. Their business is collecting statistical information. They're a marketing firm.

      For that matter, why does the data need to go to a third party at all? How are they related to the iTMS?
  • by Saven Marek (739395) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:33AM (#14455059)
    Did you know every major web browser by default sends out info about your operating system name and version, your CPU type, usually your ISP, your browser and version and sometimes extras added onto your browser, and allows it to be logged on almost every single website you have ever visited. Most web browsers DO NOT ALLOW YOU TO CHANGE THIS.

    So browsers are spyware too by the attitude some people are taking here.

    In other words defining as spyware is not a black and white picture. It's shades of grey and in this situation I see iTunes as pretty white.
  • by dsanfte (443781) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:35AM (#14455080) Journal
    The onus is on you to protect yourself if you're so paranoid about your privacy. A harmless ad server using your collection to serve relevant ads is a reasonable thing to expect a company to do if you have a business relationship with them.

    If you're this desperately paranoid about the evil corporations knowing what music you listen to, guess what? Apple already does, every time you buy a song through their store, and furthermore they have your real name, credit card number, and address also. You shouldn't be using this service.

    This is reality. Time to deal with it.
  • by sheldon (2322) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:36AM (#14455094)
    "According to Windows Magazine and BoingBoing: 'A Microsoft spokesman (reliable word has it that it was Bill Gates himself) told Windows Magazine that Microsoft discards the personal information that the Windows Media Player Ministore transmits to Microsoft while you use Windows Media Player. [...] Microsoft tells us that the information is not actually being collected. The data sent is used to update the MiniStore and then discarded.' Microsoft also has a knowledge base article, which apparently was available the day Windows Media Player v10 was introduced, explaining the MiniStore behavior and how to disable it: 'Windows Media Player sends data about the song selected in your library to the Windows Media Player Music Store to provide relevant recommendations. When the MiniStore is hidden, this data is not sent to the Windows Media Player Music Store.'"


    I think it would be fun to see the reactions to the story now.
    • It serves all those M$ users right. I'm so smug that I use an Apple/Linux/Fisher Price computer.
    • Sadly, I believe that Apple knows who they're dealing with at this time, and that's why they spewed up this sort of vague corporate drivel.

      It pains me to admit it somewhat as a Windows user, but in general, Mac users know more about their computers than the average Windows junkie. Therefore, the former can generally be expected to know what spyware is and what sort of damage it can do, while the latter cannot. This leads one to conclude that the former will care more about spyware in general.

      But, the former

      • "It pains me to admit it somewhat as a Windows user, but in general, Mac users know more about their computers than the average Windows junkie."

        This isnt true. I work Helldesk. With their new push on ipods the mac is selling well to the general populace. I get a ton of windows like calls from mac users now. The questions are just as dumb/simple/inane and almost at the same rate and frequency as the windows users now.

        Sorry but your statement may have been true years ago but not today.
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:39AM (#14455125) Homepage Journal
    The Internet has changed everything regarding bartering and trade. Up until 1995, I believe one could argue (and win) the debate on using regulations to keep businesses honest.

    Now that we have near perfect instantaneous group communication, we've opened the doorway to not needing anything but consumer power to control companies, even the biggest companies such as Apple.

    If a company performs some act -- faithfully or greedily -- that consumers don't like, you can expect the fact to be released where in the past it might have been kept secret (the media isn't very pro-consumer). We wonder why newspapers and magazines are dying -- they have advertisers to keep happy. The web lets everyone get information out that is important to them, and if enough people have a problem with a company, that negative information will gain steam quickly.

    Apple did try to hedge against this outcry, as the article says, by providing the facts for those interested in them. Should Apple have performed an opt-in program rather than an opt-out? Yes. Do we need laws and regulations to force them? No -- they'll learn from this situation.

    If Apple doesn't learn a lesson from consumer fallout, someone else will. There are already iTunes replacement programs out there -- provided out of voluntary methods (capitalism) rather than coercive methods (mercantilism and socialism).

    Be glad that we have the Internet, it will soon allow us to back out of all the pro-corporation regulations that we're paying good tax dollars to enforce.
    • You do realise that the people who even know, let alone care, probably only make up 0.1% of the ITMS customer base, if that?
      • You do realise that the people who even know, let alone care, probably only make up 0.1% of the ITMS customer base, if that?

        Which is why Apple didn't have any reason to make it opt-out. They figured they could better provide for their customers (99.9%) by putting everyone in the program, especially since they disclosed it at the time of release.

        Nothing was sold, nothing was kept. What's the problem, right?
  • Something else to mention (although it should be painfully obvious) is that the ministore doesn't appear at all if you've disabled the iTMS in the parental controls preference panel. If you have no use for the iTMS, just get rid of it altogether.
  • The response is the usually corporate weasel words.

    Either they use the information or they don't. How about a clear statement: "we don't collect information from users without their explicit permission".

    If a company is going to collect information they should be up front about it--and preferable make in an opt-in rather than a hidden opt-out choice or buried deeply in a license.

    It's a little concerning that Apple may or may not know what I'm listening to. If the information is saved (or available to
  • by illtron (722358) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:44AM (#14455178) Homepage Journal
    I always thought malware was MALicious.

    Spies work in secret. So does SPYware.

    iTunes is neither malware nor spyware, and the people who claim it is are paranoid jackasses.

    iTunes is doing this right in front of your face. I adamantly believe Apple should have included at least a dialog box at first launch of iTunes 6.02 informing users about the ministore, but I hardly consider it a breach of any sort of ethical barrier. The comparison to Gmail seem to be on the money... it's pretty much the same thing.

    As sort of an aside, it's not a terrible feature, and it's not intrusive or nagging when you don't want it hanging around. I would have definitely preferred that there was at least a notification though.
    • Actually, iTunes doesn't ask you if it can spy on you, although the evidence that it is is quite easy to spot. It also doesn't tell you exactly how much information it's sending, all you have to go on is that it knows who you are and what music you listen to.

      In order for this to be not classified as spyware, it should be opt-in.

      Instead, Apple chose profit and spying over customer protection and good faith.
  • Whatever reason they're doing this for, they don't seem to have clearly thought either their policies or their media responses on this matter out. Perhaps someone should point out to Apple that a more helpful response would be to update their privacy policy to explicitly cover what is done with that information.
  • iTunes EULA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jcaldwel (935913)

    It's a bit funny that the iTunes software agreement explicitly states that Gracenote CDDB uses a session id for tracking, while they omit the same information for the iTunes Music Store.

    Taken from Software License Agreement for iTunes
    The Gracenote CDDB Service uses a unique identifier to track queries for statistical purposes. The purpose of a randomly assigned numeric identifier is to allow the Gracenote CDDB service to count queries without knowing anything about who you are. For more information, s

  • by Kefaa (76147)
    Even if they mean what they are saying today, the very existence of the data allows someone to start collecting, retaining, analyzing and suing. The Itunes privacy policy ends with:
    Apple may update its privacy policy from time to time. When we change the policy in a material way a notice will be posted on our website along with the updated privacy policy.

    So today they say they will not collect it. Tomorrow, as part of a RIAA lawsuit, they must collect and reveal the information. Further, the RIAA will mak
  • by jmscott42 (205767)
    I can't help but think if this were ANY OTHER COMPANY than Apple, that the reaction would be universal condemnation.

    Imagine if Sony's Connect player was upgraded and did this kind of thing, by default, and didn't mention a word about it? There would've been plans made to burn the CEOs at the stake and public bulldozings of Sony equipment. Of course, no one cares about Sony Connect so maybe that wasn't the best example.

    The fact is, Apple is a corporation. They don't care about you. They don't come over and f
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:16PM (#14455531) Journal
      You're either being purposefully ignorant or you're trolling

      When Apple updated iTunes software, they included an explanation of this new behavior in their FAQ.

      There are only two pieces of news
      1. they didn't announce it
      2. the blogosphere is full of idiots blindly repeating uninformed statements that Apple was SECRETLY SPYING.

        If you are using a service, RTFM and then go read the FAQ. Bonus advice: turn off auto-updating on non-critical applications.
  • An Apple spokesman (reliable word has it that it was Steve Jobs himself) told MacWorld that Apple discards the personal information that the iTunes Ministore transmits to Apple while you use iTunes.

    Got to believe it now, since Steve himself might have said it.

    Wouldn't want to think there could ever be logs of illegal MP3's being played that the RIAA could subpoena.

  • by s0l3d4d (932623)
    who complained about this, are those who use their frequent purchasers cards when they go to Walgreens, and have then no issues when Walgreens knows exactly how much gatorade they drink, what brand asthma medicines they use, and when they bought the last pregnancy test for their wife or lover, and who wipe the frequent flyers cards when they fly. And most of the same people use credit cards ... AmEx, Visa, and Mastercard know basically everything that you buy, and when, and where. So, if Apple could have kn
  • by revery (456516) <charles@[ ]2.net ['cac' in gap]> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @11:54AM (#14455292) Homepage
    The discussion about this topic was fast and furious yesterday.

    And today you were hoping they would be 2 Fast 2 Furious?

    A sort of commentary sequel, if you will? Hmmmm?

     
  • It looks like Apple comes clean and has already beat the naysayers where they're weren't harvesting personal info whereas when MS did it, they were harvesting info.

    OK, so Apple had a hand up where they can know personal info but MS could know the same if there was a passport account with personal info (formerly know as MS Wallet) tied with Media Player.

    I think Apple came clean about this as they posted the update because of the MS fiasco nonetheless.
  • by puppetluva (46903) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:18PM (#14455560)
    I don't mind that they are using my purchase data. What I DO mind is that the service insists on recommending crappy, overpromoted songs that I would never, ever like (and I can't get it to stop).

    I turned off the service because I was tired of being told that I would like Will Smith's "Switch". This is just blatant promotion as I haven't bought anything remotely like it. In a way -- this IS using my data for 3rd parties by making me believe that there is some correlation between my tastes and overhyped crap that has flooded the national earspace.

    If they are going to collect my data, they should, as a courtesy, do something smart with it.
  • WOW (Score:2, Interesting)

    by richsw (945387)
    What a great idea. I've used it already to purchase music. Good Job Apple
  • Apple tells us that the information is not actually being collected. The data sent is used to update the MiniStore and then discarded.

    It sounds to me as if they are collecting information. They get the data and then use it. Just because they don't put it to a user does not mean they did not collect the data.

    Look as if information were money.
    The money you give in church is not really collected. It is used for the comunity.

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