Latest iTunes Dials Home Without Your Permission

We don’t mind it when software dials back home to its creator company—we mind when it does so without asking. Apparently the newest version of iTunes (6.0.2) includes a ‘Mini-Store’ pane which sends information about the current song you are listening to back to Apple (via a company called ‘Omniture’) so they can push suggested albums or songs based on your existing collection. Readers of Boing Boing have determined that turning off the Mini-Store does deactivate the behavior, but it’s something of which you should be aware.

Why does it matter? In this particular case, it really doesn’t. Apple is just trying to sell you some more iTunes downloads. But the fact remains that your listening habits should be your own business and if Apple wants to collect your personal information so as to better tailor their offers to you, they should have to ask your permission first. (Even though that likely means burying such terms inside a cryptic EULA.)

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  1. SamC says:

    Well, I look at it this way. The ministore’s function is just an extension of the itunes music store, an easy-to-use search based on the song you click when the ministore is open.

    See apple’s page – http://www.apple.com/itunes/playlists/ – it says “Tap into the 2-million-song treasure chest of the iTunes Music Store through the new MiniStore.” (I would think it would be obvious that some information gets sent.)

    Now, iTMS is already built into iTunes with its own privacy policy. (Not the clearest policy, I agree) How is the ministore any different from the stuff you click on in iTMS?

    However, I do agree that certain things need to be better spelled out, somewhere. But the EULA might not be the best place for this information (as we only generally see that once during the install). I think that a separate privacy policy would be better.

    Example: I like how google’s toolbar works: If you want features a, b & c, google will collect these particular bits of information, otherwise don’t use these functions and we won’t collect this data.

    When this story hit a variety of sites, especially Slashdot, it was blown a little out of proportion.

    Apple does need to improve their privacy policy, whether or not the ministore is there. We should be griping about Apple’s general privacy policies, especially concerning iTMS integration.

    Though, I will admit that the addition of a company like Omniture does make me worry. How do they fit into the scheme and how much control does Apple have over the data Omniture sees?

  2. SamC says:

    New info – Apple’s kb article – http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303066

    “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.”

    Commentary from Slashdot – http://apple.slashdot.org/apple/06/01/12/1513223.shtml