More on the iTunes approach to privacy

Reading more about Apple's decision to insert user's names and email addresses in the songs they download from iTunes, I stumbled across a Macworld article on iTunes 6.0.2 where Rob Griffiths described the store's approach to capturing user preferences as “spyware”.

I blogged about Rob's piece, but it turns it was 18 months old, and Apple had quickly published a fix to the “phone-home without user permission” issue.  

Since I don't want to beat a dead horse, and Apple showed the right spirit in fixing things, I took that post down within a couple of hours (leaving it here for anyone who wonders what it said). 

So now, with a better understanding of the context, I can get on with thinking about what it means for Apple to insert our names and email addresses into the music files we download – again without telling us.

First I have to thank David Waite for pointing out that the original profiling issue had been resolved:

Kim, [the Macworld] article is almost 18 months old.  Apple quickly released a newer version of iTunes which ‘fixed’ this issue – the mini store is disabled by default, and today when you select to ‘Show MiniStore’ it displays:

“The iTunes MiniStore helps you discover new music and video right from your iTunes Library. As you select tracks or videos in your Library, information about your selections are sent to Apple and the MiniStore will display related songs, artists, or videos. Apple does not keep any information related to the contents of your iTunes Library.

Would you like to turn on the MiniStore now?”

The interesting thing about the more recent debacle about Apple including your name and email address in the songs you buy from their store is that they have done this since Day 1. Its only after people thought Apple selling music with no DRM was too good to be true that the current stink over it started.

It's interesting to understand the history here.  I would have thought that in light of their previous experience, Apple would have been very up front about the fact that they are embedding your name and email address in the files they give you.  After all, it is PII, and I would think it would require your knowledge and approval. 

I wonder what the Europeans will make of this?

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.

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