Space Ramblings

Apple’s SpyTunes

Technology websites examining iTunes products discovered that personal data, including the names and e-mail addresses of purchasers, are inserted into the AAC files that Apple uses to distribute music tracks.

The information is also included in tracks sold under Apple’s iTunes Plus system, launched this week, where users pay a premium for music that is free from the controversial digital rights management (DRM) intended to protect against piracy.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation, the online consumer rights group, added that it had identified a large amount of additional unaccounted-for information in iTunes files.

Now the question is why Apple really needs to dump this information into music files. For one thing I don’t believe this is as simple as discouraging file sharing since this applied to earlier DRM protected files and a tracking number would indeed work as well. A tracking number would also work if Apple wanted to track user playing habits.

That still leaves the question of why. It could simply be apathy and incompetence on Apple’s part. Or it could be that Apple opened the door for third party companies to track and gather information on users. Possibly Apple was worried about users buying used computers with iTunes files on them which would technically not belong to the new users but how would an embedded name and email really deal with this problem?

There’s a shortage of answers but unfortunately some troubling questions.

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