Last week the Web was abuzz with privacy concerns over a new iTunes feature, "MiniStore," which provides music recommendations to users based on songs currently in the software's active playlist. To do so, it sends information about those songs back to Apple Computer, even if the tracks weren't originally purchased from the iTunes Music Store. And that information exchange also includes a string of data linked to iTunes customers' unique ID number.
To quell the storm of upset users, some of whom started calling the software "SpyTunes," Apple today began prominently notifying customers about the feature and spotlighting a simple way to turn it off.
Some bloggers noted that, as privacy threats go, the whole thing has been blown out of proportion. Some praised Apple for its response. Others, however, said Apple should have known better.
Blog community response:
"So, let's review. 1) Utterly trivial information being disclosed to the Apple store while using the application that interfaces to the Apple store is inexcusable, cause for uproar and requires immediate rectification. 2) George Bush listening to any phone conversation and reading any e-mail he damn well pleases without a warrant is a 'vital tool,' and those who object to it must be on the side of the terrorists. I think the idea of "privacy" is seriously out of whack in America."
"Apple has stopped the SpyTunes meme dead in its tracks. Responding to privacy concerns...the company has deactivated the feature and now offers a dialogue explaining it. A much better approach to the feature, and one that should have been used from the beginning."
--Good Morning Silicon Valley
"That's pretty good news, but I'd still like to know why Apple is transmitting my Apple ID number with the data collected. Still, this is the right thing for Apple to have done (and what they should have done in the first place)--good job, Apple."
"Personally I despise all forms of spyware, but this seems to be a huge over reaction to something as harmless as a shopping site cookie. Someone seriously needs to get a life..."
--Andrew Bright on CNET News.com's Talkback