New iTunes Prompts Privacy Concerns

Web sites and Internet forums are abuzz with news that a new feature recently added in version 6.0.2 may be communicating information on the song you are listening to Apple, raising privacy concerns from some users.

A "Mini Store" pane has been added to the main iTunes window that provides more information on the song being played, as well as additional available tracks from the artist, and a list of other songs that users who own the track have bought.

Cory Doctorow of the Boing Boing Web log posted about the issue early Wednesday. "At the very least, Apple must deliver information about whether iTunes gathers and transmits your data when the Mini-Store is switched off, and about what it does with the data the Mini-Store transmits when it's loaded," he wrote.

At the current time, Apple provides no information as to how the information is gathered or used, which is sure to anger privacy advocates. An option is available to turn the new feature off, which stops iTunes from transmitting information, according to reports.

According to tests, iTunes calls when the Mini Store is open. The domain is registered to Omniture, a company that uses cookies to "generally improve the user experience on the Web."

Marc Garrett of the since1968 Web log, who initially broke the story, says Apple has some explaining to do. "Apple says nothing about this practice in any of the relevant licenses. Apple should be clear about its information gathering practices," he said.

"The core issues are trust and transparency: I want to do business with companies that respect my privacy; I want them to tell me clearly when they’re collecting my data; and I'd prefer to opt-in to data collection programs rather than opt-out," Garrett argued. "Is that so much to ask?"

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