Is iTunes Spying on you?

By | January 11, 2006

iTunes MiniStore

If you’ve downloaded the latest (6.0.2) iTunes update, you’ve probably noticed the new MiniStore. What you may not have noticed is that it changes depending on what you have selected in your library. It doesn’t change by selecting an artist, but if you select an album name or single tack, the MiniStore shows you information about that album, and offers suggestion of other music.

How does this work you ask? Well… iTunes is transmitting data to Apple, and they are in turn sending info back to iTunes. Is this spying? It depends… is Apple saving this information, or is it just behaving like a standard search? If Apple is collecting and saving this information, then I would call that spying… and I’m not too happy about it. If the information isn’t stored, and it’s simply doing a search, then I don’t mind that too much.

It appears as though turning off the MiniStore (CMD+SHIFT+M) disables this “feature”, but that isn’t confirmed. Boing Boing has a complete write up about it.

Found via TUAW

UPDATE (01.12.05): Apparently Rob, from OSX Hints, has answered the question… iTunes is NOT spying on you. Apple has confirmed they do NOT store or collect information from the MiniStore.


1 Comment

Dale on January 11, 2006 at 3:56 pm.

I’ve been thinking about it, and as much as I want to get up in arms about this, I really can’t.

First of all, if you’re buying music from the ITMS, they already know plenty about your musical tastes.

Secondly, I use a service called Audioscrobbler which is like a social network for music lovers. You download a plugin for your mp3 player of choice and it reports back every song you listen to, compiled in a list and compared to other lists to find you other users with similar tastes and then reccomend other songs you might like. My musical tastes are hardly private… they’re practically public knowledge.

Thirdly, I really don’t see why this is an issue, aside from the fact that you might not be able to turn it off. If you can’t turn it off, then I can see the problem. Other than that, what are they going to do with this information that is so bad? Try to sell me music I might actually want? Take a look at Pandora: some folks would actually PAY for this kind of service. (Although Pandora is free, you can pay to remove advertisements and build more playlists than the free version)

My only question is, what happens if you don’t have an account with the store? If you never use the store and never start an account, does the mini-store still work?

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