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Apple addresses iTunes \'MiniStore\' privacy

updated 11:05 am EST, Wed January 18, 2006

Apple explains MiniStore

Apple has responded to users claims that its iTunes software on January 10th, but two days later avid Mac users discovered that the software quietly communicated information over the internet, both to Apple and to a company based in Orem, Utah. The MiniStore was activated by default in iTunes previously, but has now been deactivated until users choose to activate the feature. [updated]

Apple's iTunes 6.02 now displays the following note via its interface: "The iTunes MiniStore allows you to discover new music and videos right from your iTunes Library. As you select items in your Library, information about that item is sent to Apple and the MiniStore will show you related songs or videos. Apple does not keep any information related to the contents of your music Library."

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by MacNN Staff

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  1. greenergrad

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    feature request

    When Apple introduced the "Just for you" suggestions area of the iTunes Music Store I sent a feature request to have the suggestion engine offer to scan a user's library so the suggestions were more relevant. In my request, I specifically said that this feature would need to respect a user's privacy and make it clear what data was being captured, how it was being used, and how to discard it.

    I'm amused that Apple has now introduced a similar but definitely half-assed version of the suggestion. Theirs not only didn't initially respect privacy, but also creates a network traffic headache for corporate users as it transmits data each time a user changes songs. Thanks, Apple.

  1. PHoynak

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Not A Big Deal

    No need to panic. Apple always had a way for us to turn this feature off. Now they just made it easier. They are no Microsoft and this is not spyware in the least.

  1. jimothy

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: feature request

    Note that it only generates network traffic (and a small amount, at that) when you select on a song with the mini-store showing. When one song ends and the next begins playing, it does not send a request. So unless you have a habit of rapidly clicking from song to song, you're not going to generate a significant amount of traffic. Much less than you do by reading articles at MacNN, for instance.

    And the privacy concerns are overblown, too.

  1. piracy

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    *sigh*

    1. The show/hide button is not new. It has always been present in iTunes 6.0.2.

    2. The knowledge base article that explains just this has been available since the day iTunes 6.0.2 was released

    3. What is "new" is that Apple, via the iTunes MiniStore interface, is now giving users the opportunity to "opt in" or disable it.

  1. iomatic

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Puhlease.

    Generating network traffic? Come on. So web browsers should prevent people from surfing for all the traffic they generate. Oh, and sending emails too!

    This is not 1982, greenergrad. If a corporation can't get a 10/100/1000 switch in place, maybe they shouldn't have those fandangled PCs.

  1. mjtomlin

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    not spyware

    This is by no means spyware. Be definition spyware is code that watches what you do and reports on it without ever letting you know that it is there, ergo 'spy'

    The mini-store feature in iTunes is in plain sight and it obviously reflects choices that you make when clicking on songs in your library. If you never click on a song, it never updates.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: sigh

    1. The show/hide button is not new. It has always been present in iTunes 6.0.2. Except it was on by default, didn't inform the user that his data (including both song AND user ID) was being sent over the internet, and the ability to hide it wasn't clear.

    2. The knowledge base article that explains just this has been available since the day iTunes 6.0.2 was released

    Great for all you nimrods who do nothing but read knowledge base articles. But since most people don't know that, when they download a minor update to a piece of software, they should first go to apple.com, and read all knowledge base articles related to it.

    3. What is "new" is that Apple, via the iTunes MiniStore interface, is now giving users the opportunity to "opt in" or disable it.

    Right, which is what they should've done to begin with.

  1. pharmacopoeia

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    I like it!

    Really man, now that the iTunes store is huge (and growing) it is too hard for me to root around for new tunes that i might like. Now with the ministore i see tunes from artists i know and like (since they're in my library) and i can see they're latest (or older) works and buy them on the spot! How cool! Thanks apple!

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Not MS and traffic

    No need to panic. Apple always had a way for us to turn this feature off. Now they just made it easier. They are no Microsoft and this is not spyware in the least.

    Yeah, because if they were microsoft, they'd pass along personal identifying info and data without telling you. Oh, wait, that is what they did. But its apple, so I'm sure they wrote in their notices that your information is discarded. Oh, they didn't do that, either. Again, how was this NOT spyware?

    This is by no means spyware. Be definition spyware is code that watches what you do and reports on it without ever letting you know that it is there, ergo 'spy'

    I'm sorry, where did Apple say they were letting you know they were phoning home? Don't give me this "Well, you'd be stupid to think they weren't" c***. Many would tell you, if they don't tell you, its spyware.

    generating network traffic? Come on. So web browsers should prevent people from surfing for all the traffic they generate. Oh, and sending emails too!

    Web browsers are expected to generate web traffic. You factor that into your networking infrastructure. However, if iTunes gets deployed because the network people don't realize its generating network traffic, then its unexpected and thus adds to total networking cost (and, by the way, companies don't usually just pay $100 a month flat fee for their internet access).

    Then again, I guess all you "this is no big deal" people are also 100% for MS's activation scheme (since it just phone's home once, and it tells you), or any other software that connects to the internet when you launch it or do things.

  1. Rincewind

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Oh good lord...

    Come on, everyone complaining about this feature needs to take a step back and think about what they are saying.

    What does it take to implement a "users that liked X also liked" option. Hmm. Send the name of the song to someone that know the info. Get the response back. That's it.

    No Personal information (aside from your IP which is sent anytime you access the internet anyway). No huge amount of traffic (unless you consider a webpage a lot of traffic). Updates only on *user activity* - i.e. it won't send data without you doing something specific.

    Everyone complaining about it fails to realize that it is really just a fancy web page. What would be the difference if you went to www.myfavoritetunes.com and put in the name of a song? It'd be the exact same thing except less convenient.

    And if you used the feature and didn't think it would be using the internet, then you are simply naive. Where else would you think the information would be coming from huh?

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