Monday, June 04, 2007

Why is iTunes Now Tracking Your Personal Info?

Several weeks ago, Apple caved to the pressure and struck a deal with the EMI music label to stop selling tracks with DRM software, which copy-protected files in such a way that it violated established consumer rights and disregarded the Fair Use Doctrine of copyright law. That was indeed a positive development. However, reports have now surfaced that the DRM-free songs Apple is selling on iTunes are actually storing people's names, email addresses, and other personally identifiable information.

Perhaps what is most disturbing about this development is that Apple has thus far refused to comment on what they are planning on doing with YOUR information. As this Wired article explains, Apple is "remaining mum about its reasoning" to journalists seeking an official comment.

If Apple is planning on using that data to prevent piracy, why not come out and say so? Could it be that as almost any even mildly informed iTunes user understands, it's ridiculously simple to "circumvent, strip or otherwise spoof this information"? And if that's the case, then what other motives does Apple have in this case?

Aside from the obvious privacy concerns (and they are significant), it also seems extremely misguided for anyone to believe that Apple will actually help prevent piracy by storing your personal information and leaving it unencrypted. If anything, it only raises the danger of even more frivolous lawsuits, where the RIAA sues a teenager for distributing music files tagged as belonging to him, when his iPod may have been stolen or even misappropriated for a few hours by someone else.

In truth, this is not new. iTunes and Apple have been storing your personal data for years, even with DRM. However, that still doesn't make it right. If Apple has valid justifiable reasons for using such tactics that disregard privacy issues, then they ought to at least come out and explain them. It's called being honest with your customers. What a remarkable concept!


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