Apple has responded quickly to stop iTunes becoming "SpyTunes".
The company has changed the way its new "MiniStore" feature works, adding a dialogue to it which allows users to decide if they want to enable it or not.
Critics had complained that the "MiniStore" feature turned the world's favourite media player into "Spyware" because it secretly gathered data about what songs music lovers played.
Transparency and choice return
As released last week, the MiniStore was enabled by default. Users weren't told that it was gathering data, and it wasn't adequately explained that simply closing the MiniStore window would stop it collecting such information.
Apple had simply described the MiniStore as offering music recommendations to users. It had not revealed the feature based these recommendations on what songs users chose to play, nor that it sent data about songs played to Apple, or its agents.
Privacy advocates were furious, because at no point was the MiniStore's activity explained, nor was a user's consent required. Some reports claim the MIniStore even sends a user's Apple ID to Apple, or its agents.
No data retention, Apple says
Today, the MiniStore works differently. When its window is activated a dialogue box appears which explains: "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 show you related songs or videos," the company explains.
Apple also makes a solemn promise: "Apple does not keep any information related to the contents of your music Library".
It then offers users a choice - exactly what the company should have done when it initially launched the MIniStore - of whether to activate the feature or not.
Data retention demanded by labels
Despite Apple's promise that it will not keep such data itself, even the transfer of such data could pose future problems for privacy activists.
In Europe, music labels recently made a bid to have recent anti-terrorism legislation that requires ISPs to save all user data carried on their networks extended.
They wanted the right to access that data themselves to help them fight file-sharing, effectively lumping music fans into the same category as terrorists.
While they were unsuccessful on this occasion, the pressure to allow them access to such data is likely to continue.
Apple should be commended for moving extremely fast to ensure it maintained an open, user-centric experience with its music-loving customers, by offering transparency and choice.
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