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Is Apple collecting information about you?

by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / March 29, 2006 8:37 AM PST

A couple of months ago there was a bit of a ruckus when it was discovered that information about users of the iTunes Music Store was being collected by Apple and a third party agency, Omnitures.
There was never any mention of this in the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) or the Privacy agreement and Apple have never issued a public statement about it.
After the initial reactions, Apple released iTunes 6.0.2 which acknowledged the fact that the Mini Store panel was used to send information in order to enhance your buying experience but did offer a way to turn off this function.

Is Apple still collecting information?
Why has Apple never publicly acknowledged that information was
collected and passed on?
If M$ did this, the Apple community would be all over them like white on rice.
Just because it's our favorite company, does not make it right.

What do you think?

P

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Yo Spike! I got the spyware! Apple flavor!
by lampietheclown / March 30, 2006 12:59 PM PST

My turn in the barrel? Here we go...

The way I see it, Apple has been at the very least, irresponsible in their handling of the Ministore, and quite possibly deceitful. One thing is certain. It's been almost three months since iTunes 6.0.2 and the Ministore were released, and all of the big questions are still unanswered. As a Mac user, some of the blame for it goes to me, and to all of the Macintosh loyal base, for defending Apple without question, as we have been in the habit of doing for years. We have gotten so good at it that Apple only had to keep quiet while the Mac faithful shouted down the critics, but never answered them. If only Sony had invested in customer loyalty instead of the Xbox.

When iTunes 6.0.2 came out on January 10th, the new "Ministore feature" was not announced to the public. There were no press releases for the new Ministore, and the press had no advance notice, as is usually the case.
On that same day, Steve Jobs was on stage at Macworld, giving his keynote speech and showing off all the cool new stuff, but he never mentioned the Ministore.
When Software Update popped onto my screen, and said that there was a new version of iTunes, there was no mention of the Ministore. I was told by Software Update that 6.0.2 was a performance, stability update, and that's all it said.

I guess the first question would be, If Ministore is a feature, put there to enhance the Mac experience, why was Apple trying to hide it, or at the very least not draw attention to it?

Those who were paying attention, or using "Little Snitch," figured out quickly that this new feature was phoning home, a lot! At that point things got a bit pear shaped because people assumed the Ministore was sending A) their entire Hard Drive, or B, their entire iTunes catalog to somebody.
Neither of these things were true, but the main issue was unavoidable.

Apple had installed software that was monitoring and reporting back to them about files on our local networks. It did it without asking, without telling us what information was being reported, without telling us who the information was being sent to, and without telling us what the information was to be used for.

You know, ... Spyware!

Every Mac blog and website was writing about "Apple's Spyware". Anyone reading this who doesn't think Apple was watching and probably sweating a little, must have missed the Sony drama just two months earlier. I'm not saying that the Ministore is as bad as a rootkit. I'm saying that bad PR can take on a life of it's own, and everyone on the internet was a already a bit paranoid because of Sony. Apple knew the situation, so what do you think they did?

Did they speak up and explain? Not a word. Did they post about peoples concerns on their website? Not a pixel!
It was left to the online community to find out what was going on, and to their credit, they did.

Merlinmann and Since1968.com found that... "if you launch iTunes on a Mac with the new MiniStore open (and it?s open by default), iTunes attempts to contact 207.net, otherwise known as Omniture." http://since1968.com/article/155/omniture-itunes
To make matters worse, Omniture tries to hide behind a fake local address, to fool users into believing that what they are seeing is a LAN communication. Why would a company with nothing to hide do something so deceitful? Hmmm.

Michael Griffin and Kirk McElhearn discovered that the Ministore was sending quite a bit more than just the name of a song. Part of the information sent is your Apple ID. http://www.mcelhearn.com/article.php?story=20060112175208864
That's important enough to say again.
PART OF THE INFORMATION SENT IS YOUR APPLE ID!
To make matters worse, all of the information sent, including the Apple ID, is sent in cleartext, which is a violation of Apple's own "Customer Privacy Statement".
It says, in part....
"The Apple Online Store and iTunes Music Store use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption on all web pages where personal information is required. To make purchases from the Apple Online Store or iTunes Music Store, you must use an SSL-enabled browser such as Safari, Netscape Navigator 3.0 or later, or Internet Explorer. Doing so protects the confidentiality of your personal and credit card information while it?s transmitted over the Internet." http://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/
Is your Apple ID "personal information? I'm pretty sure mine is.

So, do you think Apple recalled the software? Not on your life! Did they call a press conference or issue a public statement or send e-mails to everyone at .Mac? No. The only sign that Apple was aware of the problem at all, was from a Macworld editor, who said that, "an Apple official told Macworld that the iTunes MiniStore feature does not collect any information from users." http://www.macworld.com/weblogs/editors/2006/01/ministore/index.php

Ah, well, case closed then, right? Nothing to see here, right?

This is where I must part ways with the "loyal Mac base".
As far as I'm concerned a second hand statement from an un-named source isn't quite good enough to clear up issues this serious. Add the fact that the "answer" did not clear up or even address most of the issues, and was in direct opposition to the facts ( I'll explain in a moment), and you may see why I didn't consider it any comfort.

The Mac fans, on the other hand, took this information and ran with it like Johnny Appleseed on crack. Every blog and every forum, had a Johnny ready to jump on anyone who who typed the word spyware, or adware, or privacy. Within days that one statement had grown into every tool needed to defend Apple.
An actual post.
Post: Well, it seems Apple is responsible for developing spyware and adware in the latest version of iTunes
Johnny: This is false, total BS, and should not be propagated, it has been debunked numerous times.

Boing Boing and Slashdot reported it as "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." http://www.boingboing.net/2006/01/11/steve_jobs_apple_dis.html
So now we have a third hand statement that it was Steve Jobs who made the call to Macworld. I'll go out on a limb here and speculate that if it was Steve, Macworld would have said so.

The Channel Register in the UK reported, "...Apple this week contacted a number of websites to insist that the feature not only doesn't record the data it grabs, but when the MiniStore is disabled, no such data is sent back to the ITMS servers." http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2006/01/12/itunes_602_spyware_claim/

So far, I have run across exactly one of these sites other than Macworld above. It was MacOSXhints Rob Griffiths, and you'll never guess what he wrote!
"I have just received confirmation from Apple directly (from a confirmed source I trust implicitly) that absolutely no information is being collected from the MiniStore (though clearly data is sent to make the feature work)... ...So I'll apologize for jumping to conclusions, but not for helping bring the issue to light. And thanks to Apple for clarifying that no data is collected; you didn't have to contact me directly, yet you did, and I appreciate that." http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20060111071001306&lsrc=osxh

That's right! Another second hand quote from an un-named source! I'm starting to see a pattern here, and a puzzle.

Apple Computer is a multinational company with a public relations department that knows how to issue a press release, and a website that is designed to inform their customers about Apple products, so why was such an important statement only issued second hand by a source who didn't want to be named?
I can think of one reason. Deniability. Please feel free to post any other reasons that you feel I might have missed.

Why do I say that the "statement" was in direct opposition to the facts?
1) Omniture's main source of income is reading log data from web sites, and reporting trends over time. What use is sending them information, if they don't keep it long enough to establish any useful trends?
2) The Apple ID is sent to Omniture. Not only is this the mother of all "personally identifiable" information, but it has no use here if the information is not kept. The IP address, sent with every internet transmission, is all that is needed to get the right ads to the right computers.
3) As a former webmaster, I know that the servers where those ads are stored keep logs of every request for information, and of every ad sent out.

Apple's "Customer Privacy Statement" confirms this.
"As is true of most Web sites, we gather certain information automatically and store it in log files. This information includes internet protocol (IP) addresses, browser type, internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp, and clickstream data.
We use this information, which does not identify individual users, to analyze trends, to administer the site, to track users? movements around the site and to gather demographic information about our user base as a whole. Apple will not use the information collected to market directly to that person." http://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/

Doesn't the last sentence sound kind of silly, considering what the Ministore is for?

When you add the Apple ID to the server logs, every bit of information is "personally identifiable".

Some people are thinking... "Where's the problem? I don't care who knows what music I listen to".

There are many problems. Here's one. Apple makes it plain in the EULAs and the Privacy Statement, that they collect information when you "interact" with them. Go to their web site, go to the iTunes music store. call them, visit the Apple store, or post on their forums, and you can expect Apple to collect some information. They tell you they are going to do it.

Everyone understands that when you are on the internet or Apple's servers (the WAN), you are being observed and the information is logged. Now Apple is getting you comfortable with the idea that it's OK to observe you and collect data while you are on your private system (the LAN). They are doing it with small unimportant bits of information so you don't really notice or care, but the precedent has been set. Using an unimportant bit of data like what song you are listening to, Apple has made a huge step tward blurring the line between public and private.

I suppose a good lawyer could make the case that when you use the iTunes software, you are "interacting" with Apple. If you accept this, opening the door for other software developers to make the same claim, who will be next? QuickBooks? Adobe? Microsoft? Is it OK for them to look over your shoulder while you use their software?

To date, Apple has not made a single public statement on any of this.

To be fair, I should point out that Apple has put a page up in their Knowledge Base (#303066), titled "How to show and hide the Ministore in iTunes".

I don't consider this very relevant because, A) it does not address any of the important questions, and B) a single page, buried deep in Apple's site, with no obvious links to it, didn't really help anybody. The only relevant information on it was; "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."

Hardly a complete answer, in so many ways.

On the Apple forums, any thread that was critical was locked. Any post that was critical or asked to many pointed questions, was removed. If I put this post on Apple's forum, in the iTunes area, it wouldn't last an hour. I know this because Apple has removed two of my posts, and locked 4 threads after I posted on them.

Of course I could be wrong about all of this.

It may turn out that Omniture being sent information was a mistake, and that sending your Apple ID was a software bug. The press release got sent to the wrong e-mail address, a server crashed without backing up first, and the only information lost was for the Ministore, and for the how-to page titled "Running OSX on a Dell". Since the beginning, the information from the server logs has been automatically wiped 512 times a second ... and I need a tin foil hat.

Well Apple? is that what happened? How about filling us in? How come you didn't call me?

Anyone else have the answers and want to speak on Apple's behalf? I'm all ears (and tinfoil).


Lampie The Clown
Mac Addict since 1985

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not only that
by russ666 / March 30, 2006 10:05 PM PST

and what about the devious creeps who might figure out how to use the collected apple/omniture information to to create problems for individual users. Such as was done after the Sony rootkit had been in the "wild" for less than a week?
russ

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That's what SSL is for.
by lampietheclown / March 30, 2006 11:55 PM PST
In reply to: not only that

Hey Russ,
It stands to reason that if someone gets an Apple ID with a credit card behind it, it wouldn't be to difficult to buy things from at least the iTunes store.
I'd imagine that to buy something big like a computer you're going to have to come up with a little more information. A bit of ''social engineering'' might get someone the added info if they were determined, but it sounds like to much work to turn into a crime spree. That doesn't mean I want it happening to me though.
I changed all of my info at Apple's site so that it no longer points to me or my money. I can't say for sure if that works, but I figured it was worth a try. You can to, here... https://myinfo.apple.com

LampieTheClown

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Thanks, Lampie
by crazyoldman / March 31, 2006 2:13 AM PST

Thank you for having the courage to state the truth in a clear headed and clear eyed manner as to Apple`s malfeasance as per the mini-store issue. I`m as rabidly loyal to Mac as anyone, but this needs to be settled quickly and in a transparent manner. Our loyalty to this brand keeps them in the marketplace, and keeps them profitable. Apple owes us a better deal than this, and they know it. Fix it, Steve, or you don`t have a hair on your ***.

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If They Only Cared Enough
by 3psoft / March 30, 2006 9:57 PM PST

Well, all I know is I was thinking of buying an Apple system because I was unhappy with Windows crashing at some of the worst times for me. I am just a regular user of word processing and play an occasion game with my computer. Nothing fancy here. I resent any company knownly collecting information without my explicit permission from me. Or, if they intend to harvest that information, I have the choice of whether or not I want them to have it. These techo pimps that offer me a product or service, than hide behind my back and start collecting data on my buying habits or use of certain software or where I choose to visit on the Web make me sick. It is that kind of arogance that makes the general public (people like me)want to have legislation created to outlaw such activity. If the upper echelons of these companies can't see the harm that they allow or allow any subordinate to violate the public trust then it shouts loudly that they have zero moral character and they like their products should be shunned by the public and if they go out of business - OH WELL!!
But since boundaries have no borders these days and we find ways to explain our actions away or just ignore the criticism and squash dissent the likely idea of this being exposed for what it is is unlikely.
If they only cared enough about the harm they are doing.

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Still better than Windows.
by lampietheclown / March 31, 2006 12:19 AM PST

Apple has joined the league of ordinary companies. The information they collect from the iTunes store and the Apple website, from .Mac, from registering the software and hardware we buy, from the Apple Forums, and from using Apple Care wasn't enough for some reason, and they sold our trust to get the rest.

Their computers are still better, even if they've decided not to be.

Your choice.

LampietheClown

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Very disappointing
by Empathy / April 1, 2006 1:37 PM PST

Thanks for the info, MrMac and Lampie.

I personally see a trend at Apple; if you sum the ominous (arrogant?) silence on this issue, plus the move to Intel, it seems that Steve and Co. are beginning to feel they have to make certain "concessions" in order to remain a viable computing platform.

Let's hope our privacy and trust don't continue to be victimized as a byproduct of these "concessions".

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It's unsolicited data in I'd like to stop
by simoncroft / April 2, 2006 10:19 AM PDT

It is obviously unacceptable for any organisation to harvest information from individuals, not only covertly but without stating the information they are gathering, who will have access to it and how that information will be used. (But it's happening more and more.)

The sad irony is that I am sure many of us would willingly hand over certain types of personal information providing there was a guarantee that it would be acted on. In particular, I would like the following information to be logged by agencies worldwide:

- I do not need V-I-A-G-R-A, regardless of how many variations you can create on the spelling. Please stop emailing me.

- I do not buy junk bonds. Please see above.

- I do not believe that you can sell me any piece of software Microsoft has ever developed for $49. (For legal reasons, I am not prepared to comment on whether this proposition represents value for money.) Please see above.

- My business does not need any drinks/food vending equipment. Please seriously consider how much better both our lives would be if you threw off your telephone headset, made love and expired.

- We also have a photocopier. Please see above.

- And enough stationery. Please see above.

- No you can't speak to the managing director. Please see above.

...and that's before we get onto the topics of the junk we get fed on our mobiles and home phone numbers.

Technology is making us more and more connected. But we are paying a price for that. More and more, we are seeing services we didn't ask for 'in our faces'.

When we pay to gain connectivity to the outside world - whether that be ISPs, computer suppliers, phone companies, whatever - the deal should be simple.

We pay money. They deliver.

I believe that there should be international legislation to cover data collection but there should be equal attention to limiting the use of individual's contact details.

What worries you most: the idea that someone out there knows you downloaded the latest Franz Ferdinand album, or the fact that you've just started eating when someone calls you out of nowhere to ask if you're intertested in installing a swimming pool?

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What worries me most.
by lampietheclown / April 2, 2006 2:22 PM PDT

Quote:
''What worries you most: the idea that someone out there knows you downloaded the latest Franz Ferdinand album, or the fact that you've just started eating when someone calls you out of nowhere to ask if you're intertested in installing a swimming pool?''

What worries me most is the number of people who are willing to give up their privacy to anyone who promises to sell them Mr. Ferdinand's new album.
The whole concept of trading privacy for better commercials, makes me think Devo was right.

By the way, did you ever wonder where the pool salesman, and the rest of them, got your phone number / address / e-mail?


Lampie the Clown

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OK but iTunes is only part of it
by simoncroft / April 3, 2006 9:56 AM PDT
In reply to: What worries me most.

I take your point Lampie but the invasion into our private lives did not start with and will not end with iTunes. What I was trying to say, in my own idiosyncratic way, is that every invasion of our privacy matters and that the consequence of that invasion is frequently more intrusive than anything we are likely to hand over via iTunes.

Yes I do know where the swimming pool salesman and all the other flakes got my phone number etc from. Our home phone number is ex-directory (ie it's not listed in any phone book). But we still get sales calls from sources including:

- a subsidiary of our bank that deals in insurance
- the finance arm of a company we bought some furniture from five years ago
- several companies that appear to use random number generators, so you'll get the call whether you are listed or not

What I find particularly offensive in the first two instances is that we are effectively being cold canvassed by a third party that has some knowledge of our personal finances. Of course, we put our phone number on some official form at one time but we never intended for it to be used this way.

As for finding a terrestrial or an email address, that's so easy it hardly needs explaining.

I suspect we all have the same concerns on this, we're just expressing it slightly different ways. Essentially, we are all constantly handing over an audit of our contact details, our purchasing preferences and our ability to pay. If we're not very careful, we can also hand over to others the means to hijack our finances.

All of this is bad news but for the most part, we're simply using the available mechanisms the way we're told we can use them. (Your bank gives you a form, you fill in the form. They give you a card, you use the card...)

Like any other body, Apple should not take personal information covertly. I think we all understand that. The wider issue is how unauthorized use of personal information affects our lives and should be limited.

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No problem
by lampietheclown / April 7, 2006 12:09 PM PDT

I wasn't disagreeing, just taking your point, ... and pointing it at the Ministore.

You are right that iTunes was not the start of our problems. On the other hand, as our computers become more and more part of our lives, privacy of our computers becomes more important. Now is the time to claim our privacy, and fight for it if we have to. Keeping it will be easier than getting it back.

Lampie

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I think it is collecting.
by karmavet / April 2, 2006 11:02 AM PDT

I noticed without even LittleSitch, that as soon as I start playing some tune with iTunes, picture of its album mysteriously appears. I did not load that tune from Apple. Is that picture embedded in music?
To me it is not that important what Apple knows about me. Thay can observe me with my wife and my lover, for what I care, but what do they do with that information worries me. If they broadcast that information to some countries when certain sex acts are punishable by stonning and their religious leader sends assasins to kill me and/or my partners, the whole North America is in big trouble.

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Yes, the artwork in in the track
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / April 2, 2006 1:07 PM PDT

Don't worry, now that you have broadcast the information around the world, via this forum, the religious assassins are already on the way


P

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You will be remembered...
by Empathy / April 4, 2006 1:17 PM PDT

Thanks for getting those religious assassins off my trail! Wink

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UPDATE: They must think I'm stupid!
by lampietheclown / April 7, 2006 1:24 PM PDT

I wrote Apple an e-mail, addressed to privacy@apple.com, asking for answers to some privacy questions. For the record, here's the e-mail I sent.

Apple,
I'm writing to ask some questions that were brought up on the CNET Mac forum concerning privacy, and Apple's collection of personal information.

Most of them have to do with the Ministore. While you have covered the privacy issues in other areas, the Ministore is a different animal, and much of what is presented does not apply,

1) Cookies. As I understand it, the Ministore stores it's cookies in the plist, and they are used by the Ministore. The Privacy Statement tells how to turn off cookies in a web browser, but not in the Ministore. Please instruct.

2)The Apple website says ''iTunes sends data about the song selected in your library to the iTunes Music Store to provide relevant recommendations''. Now I'm told that there is more information transmitted, including my Apple ID. Once and for all, what information, including the cookies from question one, is transmitted, to who, for what purpose?

3) Apple has stated that they do not collect the information sent by the Ministore. The Privacy Statement says that you keep and use the server logs. Which is correct? Couldn't the server logs be used with the Apple ID to rebuild all of the information sent by the Ministore?

4) What service is Omniture performing with the information sent to them from the Ministore?

5) when will the privacy statement and the EULA be updated to reflect the Ministore?

Thank you for your time.


Here's the reply I got!

Dear Customer,


Thank you for bringing to our attention your concerns about the new MiniStore feature in iTunes 6.0.2. Please be assured that we take our customers' concerns about our products and services very seriously, and that Apple is committed to respecting the privacy of its customers. We are looking further into the concerns you have raised. Please note that we do not store any data sent to the iTunes Music Store in connection with this feature. You also may turn off the feature in iTunes, so that no such data is sent to the iTunes Music Store, by choosing Hide MiniStore in the Edit menu. For additional information and instructions, please read this technical support article, available from Apple's website:
http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n303066

Thank you for your interest in iTunes and the iTunes Music Store.

Sincerely,

The iTunes Music Store Team
http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/ww/

Question: Did ANY of the questions get answered?

At first glance their statement, ''We are looking further into the concerns you have raised.'' might make one think something was accomplished, but think about it. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that 3 months after the Ministore was released, the answers to these questions shouldn't require ''looking into''. They KNOW the answers. These are not tricky questions.

''The iTunes Music Store Team'' doesn't know what information is sent?
They don't know who it is sent to?
They don't know why?
They don't know what information is available from the Music Store server logs?
They don't know why Omniture is involved?
They don't know when the privacy statement or the EULA will be updated?

After 3 months, my e-mail has caused them to ''look further''?

Quick, before the magic runs from my keyboard, what's the e-mail for the White House, Kremlin, and Post Cereal? ( I like the old Alpha-bits better than the ''improved'' version. What can I say? )

For all other Apple software titles these questions are answered in the privacy statement and the EULA. When it comes to the Ministore, Apple for some reason, thinks it's better if we don't know.
On top of that, The iTunes Music Store Team would rather look like idiots than admit they know the answers to these simple questions.

Anyone want to guess why?


Lampie

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Infomation is sent out?
by taboma / April 7, 2006 2:00 PM PDT

?in Alpha-bits.

-Kevin

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plist ?
by russ666 / April 7, 2006 11:34 PM PDT

Lampie,
Your post reminded me of the days when i was often on the phone to applecare during the waranty period of my present OS. Often the ''fix'' would be to trash the offending plist and restart. (since these are rebuilt as needed) And so i thought: ''why not take a look at iTunes plists and see if there was anything there that might cause the divulging of personal info to a 3rd party.
When you take (from iTunes) the ''free'' download of a ''free song of the week'' from the mini store, there is a caution window pop-up (or drop-down maybe) that warns you are about to contact a 3rd party and asks if you wish to continue. The 3rd party name is ''phobos'' and sure enough there IS a bit of code specifying ''phobos'' within a LOT of other code in the plist for iTunes. Since code is always so much gobbeldy-geek to me, and i am at a loss to understand what it all means, i am wondering if you are conversant enough with it to determine if it could be somehow altered or eliminated from the plist without too much negative effect ?
russ

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I'll stick my kneck out here
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / April 8, 2006 12:50 AM PDT
In reply to: plist ?

and say that if you change the plist in any way, it might just be "corrected" when you launch the program again.
As plist files are created by the app, if they are not there, it would follow that anything missing may well get replaced.

Just a thought based on incoherent ramblings

P

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plist2
by russ666 / April 8, 2006 9:43 PM PDT

Yes that was my thought too except that in the past when the intentional trashing of that kind of file occured (in my own case) and it was then rebuilt, the rebuilt file was pristine. That is to say, if some information i or another entity had entered (and was stored there as a cookie) that could point to my computer, it might no longer contain my purchase history just my ID, for example, except as i continued to keep the ministore "open" and made additional purchases then it would resume collecting of course.
Anyone else care to jump in with something more definitive such as what other information this plist might contain ? Speculations welcome.
russ

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Typical guess
by lampietheclown / April 8, 2006 10:17 PM PDT
In reply to: plist2

The plist would of course have your prefs for the app, which would need to be reset after the trashing, and since they,re hiding the cookie in there (according to others), typical cookie information would be date & time of last request to the server, Apple ID, and pretty much any other information the cookies creator wanted to add.
When you consider the amount of information every website you visit sees, and add the amount of information Apple knows about anyone who has an Apple ID, It could be anything. Think like a marketing department. What would you add?

I read a post yesterday that says 2o7.net is only contacted if you are using the Mac version of iTunes. Omniture's 2o7.net site is a cookie distribution server (according to their site).

Lampie

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2o7.net
by russ666 / April 8, 2006 10:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Typical guess

There is an aol feature calling itself: ''full cd listening party''. On a weekly basis it will expose, on demand, any surfer to the site to 30-35 new cds. One can audit or buy any cd or just listen to individual tracks as desired. Surfing to it will place several cookies into your browser with 2o7.net ID tags. Clearly you can delete them from your browser's preference section AFTER you have finished listening. It is a good idea to do this (delete them) actually, since if you don't, the next time you surf to the site it will remember your connection speed and begin playing their first selection regardless of your intentions. Since 2o7.net is here as well as working with iTunes as omniture, i am going to make a leap here and assume they are in cahoots to deluge us with unwanted suggestions for future music purchases and also to try to influence my musical taste (dumb it down even more if that were still possible).
russ

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Christmas for the RIAA
by lampietheclown / April 9, 2006 4:06 PM PDT
In reply to: 2o7.net

Speculation? Sounds like fun.
If Apple won't say what they're up to, let's discuss what they might be up to.

Apple needs to keep the the RIAA members happy if they want content for the iTunes Music Store.
The record companies want a way into our hard drives. Sony proved that.
Since the Ministore reports any file you click on, and not just files that you bought from Apple, it's the holy grail for the RIAA.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?


Lampie

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RIAA
by russ666 / April 10, 2006 12:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Christmas for the RIAA

Yes, that was my suspicion also. For the time being, programs like little snitch are about the only defense we have against these incursions. And since little snitch is not telling us WHAT is being recorded about our surfing habits either, we ARE correct to suspect the worst.
russ

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extreme solution (RIAA style)
by russ666 / April 10, 2006 1:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Christmas for the RIAA
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Some Humor from The Tribe.
by lampietheclown / April 10, 2006 9:49 PM PDT

Saw this posted at The Tribe. http://osx.tribe.net
It's a rewrite of Apple's description of the Ministore. The author of the post goes by Trog.

''As you select items in your Library, information about that item is sent to both Apple and a data analysis firm in Ogden, Utah. Your Apple ID, which uniquely identifies you, your address, and your TRW report in the event you have ever bought anything from the Apple store, is sent as well. The MiniStore will then show you related songs or videos. What the firm in Ogden does we'd prefer not to say.
Apple does not keep any information related to the contents of your music Library. Note that we said Apple does not keep the information. Apple is not in Ogden. We aren't prepared to make a statement about whether the firm in Ogden keeps your private data and we'd like it if you would stop asking.''


Sounds about right to me.

Lampie

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If the French can do it
by russ666 / April 10, 2006 10:14 PM PDT

this was posted on an msnbc blog. i have to wonder if they will make Bill Gates and company share toys and play nice too:

"French lawmakers approved an online copyright bill Tuesday that would
require Apple to break open the exclusive format behind its market-leading iTunes music store and iPod players.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11943799/

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Not exactly correct
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / April 11, 2006 6:32 AM PDT

On the surface, that is what the bill seems to want. However, the answer is to allow those Record Company's that do not require DRM on their tracks to sell them on the French iTunes store as unprotected MP3's.
Apple can continue to sell DRM protected tracks, because now there is a choice. You do not have to use the iPod to play MP3's.
Bear in mind that if the bill actually does what is suggested, M$ will have to open their code up as well. Something they currently do not do, even though they license its use. That would mean that all the Windows based music stores would have to work with the iPod.
Personally, if this bill passes, I would only sell French Record Company tracks at the French iTunes site and see how long it will take for the FRC's to complain about piracy and lack of revenue.

P

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Downloads rip off artists
by simoncroft / April 11, 2006 8:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Not exactly correct

Apologies if this angle doesn't exactly relate to this thread as it started but I think it's an important aspect about music downloads. Not only is the consumer vulnerable to intrusion, most artists are being ripped off.

The reason is that the section of their contracts dealing with download royalties are a fairly recent inclusion and the royalty rates are are a lot lower. That seems very unfair when the labels have no manufacturing cost and dramatically reduced distribution costs on downloads over CDs.

I don't have the stats under my fingertips but I can find them easily enough, if anyone is interested.

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Not exactly correct
by lampietheclown / April 14, 2006 5:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Not exactly correct

The French law would require that every file with DRM installed must be able to play on any player that the customer wishes to use it on. They want disclosure of how to defeat the DRM if it prevents this.

It seems backwards to me. It would be much easier, and more DRM secure, if they required the DRMs to be open to the manufacturers of players, so that every format (not that many) was installed on the players.

On another thought,... I'm starting to see parallels between Apple and Sony. I need to have my glasses checked.

Believe it or not, Sony fought very hard to create the concept of ''fair use'' in the US, arguing that people should have the right to make copies of content they purchase. It was when the Betamax first came out, and Sony was being sued by the movie studios for creating a device that promotes piracy! The Judge agreed with Sony, and ''fair use'' was born.
Now Sony and the RIAA are arguing that ANY copying of the content should be considered piracy. I guess that's because the Betamax platform didn't work out.

In March of 2002 the Wallstreet Journal quotes Steve Jobs as saying
''If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own,''

What's more, as Steve Jobs explained to Rolling Stone in 2003, iTunes DRM doesn't stop people from making and sharing unauthorized copies of their music:

''None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.'s here, that know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content. . . . . [There is] this amazingly efficient distribution system for stolen property called the Internet --- and no one's gonna shut down the Internet. And it only takes one stolen copy to be on the Internet.

In a response issued after the French law won initial approval, Apple said: ''If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers.''
But, it added, the law could prove a boon for Apple and its popular iPod music players.
Said Apple: ''iPod sales will likely increase as users freely load their iPods with ''interoperable'' music which cannot be adequately protected. Free movies for iPods should not be far behind in what will rapidly become a state-sponsored culture of piracy.''

Another Steve Quote...
''It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.''

So the music should rightly work on any machine, and DRM doesn't stop piracy, On the other hand if you give the French customer a more user friendly product (broken DRM), piracy will climb, sales of music will plummet, and people will buy more iPods to hold the bigger stolen libraries. A state sponsored culture of piracy sounds bad by context, but I may be misreading it since ''It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.''

Thanks for clearing that up Steve!

Want a laugh?
Check out Sony's music store. It doesn't look like they've learned anything from their earlier screw-up. Is it normal for a website to require you to have Admin. enabled to enter?
http://www.connect.com/non_ie.html


Lampie The Clown

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I was also puzzled by his comment,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / April 14, 2006 6:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Not exactly correct

maybe we just don't move in the right circles or maybe he was referring to something else entirely. Maybe the intention was to describe Apple as the "kinda" anti-establishment sort of company, hence the reference to the Navy (Establishment) and Pirate (Apple)...Who knows.
On the subject of the linked site. I went there with my IE v6.0 on XP, only to be told that my browser was less than IE 5.0! About that Amdmin rights warning. (This is not a defense, just an explanation)
Kinda like the Mac, installation of software that changes the system, requires Admin rights. Unfortunately, with Windows you do not get asked for a name and password of someone with Admin rights, it just refuses to install if the user does not have those rights. For that reason, almost all windows users are logged onto their machines with admin rights and because of that anything can, and is, installed without any user interaction or permission. It would have been better if that site had allowed for the downloading of the software, like iTunes does, with the warning that it cannot be installed unless you have admin rights on the machine.

Hope you find lots of eggs this weekend

P

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