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Apple Responds to iTunes Spying Allegations

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the harmless-fruit dept.

Media (Apple) 385

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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This is just fud (2, Interesting)

filenavigator (944290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14454951)

This spying news with iTunes sounds more like jealous FUD coming from their competitors.

Re:This is just fud (5, Insightful)

MountainMan101 (714389) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is just fud (2, Insightful)

StupidHelpDeskGuy (636955) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455063)

You are mistaken. It collects information about music in your library, not just what you've purchased.

Re:This is just fud (0)

Basehart (633304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455119)

It doesn't look at stuff you ripped yourself. Only the purchases you made from the iTunes store.

Re:This is just fud (5, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455171)

Oh yes it does. ANY song that you select, whether one you bought or one you ripped yourself will cause the mini-store to update with other products from the same artist.

But so what? It can be a useful feature. If you don't want it, it's 1 click to turn it off. At which point, no more queries will be made of the Apple store for the artist name. Problem solved.

Re:This is just fud (2, Insightful)

StupidHelpDeskGuy (636955) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455232)

The issue is, that the music I rip personally, is none of Apple's business. They are free to recommend based on what I've purchased, or even browsed, but not what I've personally ripped. It's an invasion of privacy, especially if it's not mentioned in the EULA.

Re:This is just fud (1)

krakelohm (830589) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455386)

If it bothers you so, disable.

Not precisely true... (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455385)

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.

Re:This is just fud (2, Funny)

yobjob (942868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455103)

This sounds like sneaky marketing for Apple's upcoming iSpy product.

Poooooooo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14454954)

Frosty pist!!!!!!!!111111111111

Re:Poooooooo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455077)

I am new here and haven't set up my account yet. What is Frosty pist!!!!!!!!111111111111
I don't get it. It has nothing to do with iTunes. Also, it seems that whilst you were attempting to use exclamation points in a line, your finger slipped off the shift key, leaving a trail of 1s instead. This slashdot place is sort of confusing.

In retrospect ... (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14454962)

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 ... (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455046)

Someone would be bound to complain about it even if it was an option that you had to turn on. The article submission would have read something to the effect of "Nifty hidden feature in iTunes has a nasty secret." You can't please everybody.

Re:In retrospect ... (2, Informative)

BuR4N (512430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455047)

"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 ... (5, Interesting)

non0score (890022) | more than 8 years ago | (#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).

Re:In retrospect ...Hey, Wait a Minute Here (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455305)

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?

Re:In retrospect ...Hey, Wait a Minute Here (2, Insightful)

non0score (890022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455399)

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 to know your "feedback" in order to know what you like or don't like. Similar to this, Amazon's recommendation system has more than once recommended to me something that I ended up liking (granted this is only based on what you're browsing), and I appreciate that (don't flame me, this is just my personal preference).

As for the giant warning, I agree that they should have warned the user, even if they turned on the data collection by default.

Re:In retrospect ... (3, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455402)

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 customer clicks on "yes" or "no".

In this way, you get visibility of a new feature (the pro of having it on by default) and the chance to opt out if you don't want it (the pro of having it off by default).

Re:In retrospect ... (5, Insightful)

DaggertipX (547165) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455072)

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.

Re:In retrospect ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455219)

How do we know? I buy Apple products, but I don't trust Steve that far ...

Re:In retrospect ... (2, Informative)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455087)

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!

Re:In retrospect ... (4, Insightful)

chriss (26574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455089)

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

Re:In retrospect ... (1, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455199)

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.

Re:In retrospect ... (2, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455297)

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 issue. Examine each case on it's merits. Don't just try your hardest to categorise each new web-service that comes along as spyware.

As if anyone is interested in what artists an anonymous person on a particular IP address plays anyway. Adding them all together might be of interest though. But how the hell that is detrimental to you as an individual is a question that none of the current breed of privacy hysterics seem to have an answer for.

Non-issue (4, Interesting)

millennial (830897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14454967)

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 (2, Informative)

millennial (830897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455001)

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.

Re:Non-issue (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455090)

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.

Re:Non-issue (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455348)

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.

Re:Non-issue (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455235)

Amazon only use information that I choose to submit to them. Apple just read it off my hard drive. It's the difference between my local DVD shop recommending things based on my past rentals, and them sending a guy round to peer in through my curtains to see what I'm watching on the television.

I don't consider it a big deal, but it is rude.

iTunes is SPYWARE!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14454971)

iTunes is SPYWARE!!! LOL!

FP?

Yeah OK (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14454977)

Apple stole my identity! Now I'll never get a car.

Re:Yeah OK (2, Insightful)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455076)

You wouldn't get a car from Apple anyway. Get over it.

Re:Yeah OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455220)

If Apple released a car would you want it anyway? White, curvy, less features than competitors, overpriced, same as all the mindless sheep have, reality distortion field.

Itunes Music Store Default On or Off? (1, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14454981)

If the Itunes Music Store is defaulted to ON, this is kind of sneaky since most people do not realize how to turn it off or if Apple saves their personal data or not.

If it is defaulted to OFF that is better, but if it is turned on it should have a pop-up telling you that your music selections are being tracked by Apple and how to turn it off.

The other issue is that people just don't trust large corporations to store/save/erase the data from their customers.
Just because Steve Jobs says its so, doesn't necessarily mean it IS so.

FYI to quickly disable it, hit Shift-Command-M

Re:Itunes Music Store Default On or Off? (3, Insightful)

Brewskibrew (945086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455033)

Why do folks assume that iTunes and every other software isn't reporting your shoe size, whether you 2% milk back, and which M&M's you eat first to the green men on Mars (10 1/2, No and Yellow Peanuts, btw)? How many idiots have been outed because Microsoft Word document headers recorded the name they entered when they installed Office? Assume nothing.

Re:Itunes Music Store Default On or Off? (1)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455189)

It makes a lot of sense from a marketing perspective to not want an Opt-in system, that is just too much trouble for most people to bother with. I think the solution would have been an opt-out system, but provide a clear warning about what it is doing and not hide it in the fine print. a pop-up window the first time it starts giving a web address of where to get instructions to disable. Still get the marketing advantage from people too lazy to go through the steps, but not pissing off the people about not knowing about it.

Re:Itunes Music Store Default On or Off? (3, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455293)

If the Itunes Music Store is defaulted to ON, this is kind of sneaky since most people do not realize how to turn it off or if Apple saves their personal data or not.

If I walk into a clothing store, it doesn't surprise me if the clerk offers to show me something based on what I'm wearing.

Re:Itunes Music Store Default On or Off? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455322)

Um like all this apple it's really easy to make it go away.

goto the Menu -View

Third option(?) from the bottom Hide itunes Mini store.

When i updated last night I couldn't remember the keyboard combo. Apple has a fairly consistent layout. its not hard for an idiot to turn it off if it annoys them.

Re:Itunes Music Store Default On or Off? (1)

kitzilla (266382) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455346)

If the Itunes Music Store is defaulted to ON, this is kind of sneaky since most people do not realize how to turn it off or if Apple saves their personal data or not.

Not only can the ministore be turned off from the menu and with the keysroke you suggest, there's an obvious button which closes the ministore pane. It's identical in appearance to the long-established close button for the album art pane. I didn't like the ministore's clutter and closed it immedaitely upon launching iTunes. It stays closed upon relaunch.

Really, I don't think this is much of an issue, and the Knowledge Base article sets things to rest for me.

Re:Itunes Music Store Default On or Off? (0, Troll)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455371)

If the Itunes Music Store is defaulted to ON, this is kind of sneaky since most people do not realize how to turn it off or if Apple saves their personal data or not.
So you're trying to say Apple makes products that are so stupid simple to use... that stupid and simple people are using them?

Whatever happened to the "Mac/iPod/iTunes users are the smartest/coolest/hippest" meme?

If the word was reliable... (5, Insightful)

StupidHelpDeskGuy (636955) | more than 8 years ago | (#14454983)

"reliable word has it that it was Steve Jobs himself" then why not cite the source?

Re:If the word was reliable... (3, Funny)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455057)

What?? Are you saying reporters should cite sources and report facts? What are you, some kind of Commie pinko terrorist?

Re:If the word was reliable... (1)

tezbobobo (879983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455254)

Because in Australia that is the difference between a law suit and a non-lawsuit. It is one thing to say "Bill Gates is a peadophile" and another to say "I think Bill Gates is a peadophile." (Sorry Bill. To state something happened which didn't opens one up to charges and slander and worse. To say there are rumours is completely different.

Re:If the word was reliable... (1)

doc modulo (568776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455286)

The reason is called CYA (Cover Your Ass).

If Steve Jobs is not on record saying that Apple doesn't save private information, if it was only a rumor, then he can't be sued if it turns out that Apple did indeed save private information.

If the people decide to give Apple the benefit of the doubt, it's because they have a reasonable reputation. These kinds of actions (it's spyware wether or not the info is saved) are eroding that reputation however. In the past, corporations could both do bad things and use spin to keep their reputations on a high level. Nowadays that doesn't work nearly as well.

It's simple, just do the right thing and your precious reputation (Apple rep = $) will stay intact.

Don't say that "we don't save the info", just don't send it to Apple's servers in the first place.

Then your clients will have proof that nothing bad's happening, now we'll have to trust some rumor.

Same principle applies to the TPM / DRM / Root chip in the new Intel Macs, I won't be buying one.

Re:If the word was reliable... (1)

yardbird (165009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455395)

And more to the point, why didn't they capitalize "Himself"?

If it were Microsoft... (1, Insightful)

zenderbender (663373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455003)

Everyone would still be angry no matter what Bill says. Because it's not, then everything is ok. BTW: I am a Linux guy... Making an observation...

Steve always tells the truth.... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455010)

You can always trust what Steve Jobs says,
"We will NOT be releasing a video iPod"........

not actually being collected (4, Insightful)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:not actually being collected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455206)

that doesn't prove anything. unless you think they're going to let you log in and verify that the source they provided is the source they're running.

further, what's the big deal with someone knowing what music you're listening to? if you don't want the ministore to send data, turn it off, and if you want to have music suggested to you, turn it on.

it's not that hard. stop whining.

Re:not actually being collected (1)

cmdr_beeftaco (562067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455303)

I'd not only should they allow me to log onto their servers and see what server they are running but they should let me recompile their server with source code modifcations that I deem needed to veil my identity. Furthmore, I am morally opposed to HTTP/GET and believe Apple should suspend all HTTP/GET responses if they want my 99 cents.

Re:not actually being collected (5, Funny)

cmdr_beeftaco (562067) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Damage Control (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455030)

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 (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Damage Control (0)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455247)

Wow! A daveschroeder post I actually agree with. The end is nigh!

Re:Damage Control (0, Redundant)

Daedala (819156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455354)

This is all very nice, but it doesn't apply to those few people who already have an earlier version of iTunes installed and just ran the updater. There was no warning, no indication, and two DIFFERENT EULAs, neither of which mention Omniture (the third-party company doing this). You can't NOT send information unless you know beforehand to disable the ministore -- as soon as you play your first song (something one often wishes to do in iTunes, for some funny reason), you are sending in information.

They absolutely should have had a dialog box warning users of this. Or including it in the update description. This is a minor update, not something current users should have to go to the website to read up on. Is it pretty obvious what's going on? Sure. But opt-out doesn't work for spam, either.

Re:Damage Control (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455358)

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 anonymous but some privacy issues are justifiably raised.

Disclaimer: I submitted the story yesterday that began the discussion on /.

Re:Damage Control (1)

bloodmusic (223292) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455398)

Nevertheless, we must warn them that in the future they should delete the words 'crunchy frog', and replace them with the legend 'crunchy raw unboned real dead frog', if they want to avoid prosecution.

Still seems a little fishy (4, Interesting)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455031)

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.

Re:Still seems a little fishy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455241)

f the amount of data collected can be used as an argument for "discarding", keep in mind what amounts of data other companies are collecting on their customers:

http://brandautopsy.typepad.com/brandautopsy/2004/ [typepad.com] 11/knowledge_is_po.html

That's because it IS fishy. (1)

smose (877816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455380)

To quote an oft-quoted post [slashdot.org] from the DMCA Abuse Widespread [slashdot.org] article:

Whenever a controversial law is proposed, and its supporters, when confronted with an egregious abuse it would permit, use a phrase along the lines of 'Perhaps in theory, but the law would never be applied in that way' - they're lying . They intend to use the law that way as early and as often as possible.

I thought the quote was from a Patriot Act thread, but clearly the idea is common enough. It matters not whether the spy is human or machine, or works for the government or a corporation -- a spy is a spy.

Perhaps in such matters the installer should use no default at all: pose the question with a yes/no answer dialog. The NO choice has to work; too many installers provide option boxes that have no effect, and you still end up with the crapware you deselected.

New iPod s/w have Bug fixes for almost all iPods (-1, Offtopic)

anandpur (303114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455045)

What's new in iPod Updater 2006-01-10:
1. Support for the iPod Radio Remote for iPod with video and iPod nano
2. Bug fixes for iPod with video, iPod nano, iPod with color display, iPod mini, and iPod with Click Wheel

http://www.apple.com/ipod/download/ [apple.com]

Re:New iPod s/w have Bug fixes for almost all iPod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455248)

Thanks. I stopped installing updates for my mini when they broke the smart playlist feature for older ipods in an update last year, but apparently, this one finally fixes it.

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=301 910 [apple.com]

Re:New iPod s/w have Bug fixes for almost all iPod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455329)

Dang it, I just updated my iPod!

nothing new here (3, Insightful)

PureCreditor (300490) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 (1)

BodhiCat (925309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455264)

Face it, there is no longer any such thing as privacy. The internet is just the telescreen of 1984, where the powers that be watch you while you watch their programs. [Obigatory quote left out here.] With datamining, cell phone call available from web sites, personal records, etc. for sale, Big Brother Dubya scaning calls, usw. we are all living in houses with open curtains. I guess the only way out of this is to become a Zen monk and live in a cave without internet, phone, or credit cards, but even then the government would probably hire some badger to spy on you.

Re:nothing new here (5, Informative)

Daedala (819156) | more than 8 years ago | (#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?

Re:nothing new here (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455384)

Google scans your emails for ads...

Well, that's silly of them. I don't put ads in my emails...

Remember every web browser is spyware too. (3, Insightful)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Remember every web browser is spyware too. (1)

the chao goes mu (700713) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455221)

I don't ever recall seeing the CPU type listed in the http headers.

Re:Remember every web browser is spyware too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455387)

Not all do it, but it's in the browser identity string. A few from my webserver:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Mac_PowerPC)
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/417.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/417.8
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.12) Gecko/20050922 Fedora/1.0.7-1.1.fc3 Firefox/1.0.7
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.12) Gecko/20050920 Firefox/1.0.7 SUSE/1.0.7-0.1
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.8b4) Gecko/20050913 SeaMonkey/1.0a

The only major browser that doesn't seem to be spyware is MSIE on Windows.

Unreasonable Paranoia (4, Insightful)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455080)

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.

last_modified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455082)

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303 066 [apple.com] = META NAME="last_modified" CONTENT="2006-01-09"
"which apparently was available the day iTunes 6.0.2 was introduced"

uhuh,

Let's try the story this way... (4, Insightful)

sheldon (2322) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

I'm outraged!!! (1)

klubar (591384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455183)

It serves all those M$ users right. I'm so smug that I use an Apple/Linux/Fisher Price computer.

Re:Let's try the story this way... (1)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455288)

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 group (Mac users) also share another factor in common that Windows users do not: brand loyalty. They trust apple to do no evil. Because of that trust, they're inclined to not only take press releases from Apple such as this one at face value, but also to let cognitive dissonance set in when their beloved company's policies contradict their own personal beliefs (as exemplified by the various "well, THIS spyware isn't so bad..." posts on this topic and the first one.)

In other words, Apple knows what they're doing, because all of the company's brand-loyal lackeys will believe them no matter what they say, and most Windows users simply won't care.

ispy (1)

blake3737 (839993) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455100)

iSpy with my little i....... a topic that got blown WAY out of proportion.

Market trumps regulations, go figure (3, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455125)

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.

Re:Market trumps regulations, go figure (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455227)

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?

Re:Market trumps regulations, go figure (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455275)

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?

disable the store completely (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455130)

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.

Weasel words... (1)

klubar (591384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455138)

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 be saved) they could correlate the information with the CD's I've purchased to make sure that I haven't inappropriately "borrowed" on of the music.

ethereal confirmed it yesterday (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455159)

This confirms my ethereal monitoring [slashdot.org] while listening after yesterday's post. (I posted in reply to someone else)

iTunes is evil - but this was the wrong reason (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455173)

iTunes is evil because it drives acceptance among the masses for the abomination that is DRM [wikipedia.org] . It is, of course nothing other than a way to spoonfeed this bitter poison to the unknowing. Once the public has been made used to accept iTunes, it's all the more easier to introduce and enforce even harder and more evil restrictions.

Shame on Apple. You are no better than those others. Bleh!

There is no excuse for supporting this. Fan boys may defend in in all ways that they want, that it is "needed" or "mild" or "the lesser of evils". You know what? It doesn't matter, all evils are evil. The obvious choice is to not choose any evil, it is false logic that dictates that any of them needs to be chosen.

Oh, and "shiny" does not good make, either.

Am I the Only One... (-1, Troll)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455177)

...who doesn't believe them?

Remember the old saying, kids: people with power are always tempted to use it, and information is a form of power. A profit-seeking entity like a corporation is no different from a political-power-seeking institution such as a state in this regard. They will say and do anything that they believe they can get away with if it means increasing their power factor.

So, I find no reason to take this admission by Apple at face value, unless you're one of the naive, "Apple can Do No Evil" types.

stupid overeactions (5, Insightful)

illtron (722358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455178)

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.

Awfully vague reassurances. (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455184)

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 (2, Interesting)

jcaldwel (935913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455187)

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, see the web page for the Gracenote Privacy Policy for the Gracenote CDDB Service.

Privacy Policy (1, Troll)

Kefaa (76147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455236)

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 make the case that if Apple tells anyone, it will show up on slashdot, and all of you criminals will know.

Apple should just remove the code or stop making excuses. They monitor - if you do not like it, do not buy the product. But that would sound unsympathetic to their customers, so they flounder in this legalese.

Sneaky bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455239)

Apple tells us that the information is not actually being collected...

Is not actually being collected... NOW. But was it collected in the past? Or will it be collected in the future?

This WAS a big deal. (2, Insightful)

jmscott42 (205767) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455251)

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 feed your pets when you're on vacation. They're in business to make money. By having these 'related artists', it might feed iTunes sales. And they slipped a feature in that phones home (actually, phones a third party) without being explicit about what is going on. Sure, it could be innocuous (and appears-- TODAY-- to be semi-innocuous) but no one knew yesterday except a mysterious connection was being made with no explanation.

As for everyone saying "When you buy something they can track your habits" -- of course they can. That's expected. What's not expected is a third party IP address obtaining information just as you're playing music with no explanation of what they're getting. Apple COULD HAVE been sending ANYTHING to them. That company could have been doing ANYTHING with that. It wasn't explicit.

Either way, they blew it and they got called on it. This is a privacy issue. Don't let your fanboy-ism get in the way of seeing that. The public reaction was a GOOD thing.

Re:This WAS a big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455369)

Apple COULD HAVE been sending ANYTHING to them. That company could have been doing ANYTHING with that. It wasn't explicit.

So, how does one solve that? They could've had a dialgue that claimed they don't store any data or whatnot, and still stored it. When should we stop being paranoid and FREAKING the fuck out without knowing facts?

Gotta'ta Believe (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455272)

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.

Re:Gotta'ta Believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455370)

Mp3s don't have info in the ID3 tag that says, "Hi, I'm illegally downloaded." Have you ever used mp3s? Do you know what an mp3 is?

When you rip a CD, it doesn't know if it's the real CD or not. You're paranoid. I bet you were the first poster on this same topic yesterday, the guy yelling from the rooftops, "Hi, I'm dumb and uninformed!"

And the same people ... (2, Interesting)

s0l3d4d (932623) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455289)

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 known you would have been listening to Britney Spears or other hideous music, for a whole one track, AmEx knows you bought 5 CDs of her. And they still could not have known if you ripped the track yourself or used some hideous p2p to get it.

hoping for a sequel (2, Funny)

revery (456516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455292)

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?

 

For those in the Apple vs. Microsoft camp (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455310)

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.

-1, Fanboy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455353)

We really, really need a mod like that....

Now not and in the future? (1)

Elixon (832904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14455316)

Will they inform us in the clear and visible form if they change their minds? Can they promise?

right.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14455404)

and I love you too and I'll call you in the morning.
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