Apple has changed the way iTunes works so that users are given the chance to decline the iTunes Ministore, a service that gathers detailed information about your listening habits and transmits it to Apple along with a number that uniquely identifies you.
Last week, users who upgraded to iTunes 6.0.2 discovered that a new feature had been activated, the iTunes MiniStore, which recommends music to purchase based on your listening habits. Subsequent investigation showed that iTunes was also transmitting your Apple ID, which ties this information to your credit card, mother's maiden name and other personal information.
While the service is potentially useful -- I make use of a similar service called Last.FM that helps recommend music based on my listening habits -- the way it was deployed was troubling.
The MiniStore was switched on by default, without any notice that this service was collecting your information, nor which information was being collected, nor what Apple did with this information.
The new version of the iTunes 6.0.2 installer pops up this screen before turning on the MiniStore:
The iTunes MiniStore allows you to discover new music and videos right from your iTunes Library. As you select items in your Library, information about that item is sent to Apple and the MiniStore will send you related songs or videos. Apple does not keep any information related to the contents of your music Library.
Would you like to turn on the MiniStore now?
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.
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