Like I predicted in a previous post, Apple has come under fire because of privacy concerns regarding the new MiniStore feature introduced with iTunes 6.0.2.
The comments made by the critics are indeed valid, and Apple has to be criticised for launching such a fundamentally new feature, without any mention, and with a minor point release, going from version 6.0.1 to 6.0.2.
Apple has released information on how to turn the MiniStore off, and it has been confirmed by independent sources, that there is no communication with the iTunes servers if you turn the MiniStore off.
But really…Web-sites like Amazon track you in even more detail, and I don’t think that their tracking, unlike the MiniStore, can be turned off.
The main difference in technology is that Amazon is a web-site, using standard secure communication protocols (a web-browser and HTTPS), and iTunes is a client application, using it’s own protocols to communicate with the iTunes servers. This means that iTunes, unlike a web-site, has to be posting information over the wire, directly from the client to the iTunes servers, using it’s own non-standard, non-transparent protocols.
However: I’ll keep the MiniStore feature turned on for now, it is a useful feature, and I hope that it will draw people’s attention to the community features of iTunes that are, so far, under-utilised. On the other hand, the community features of iTunes will most likely never rival real community driven sites like Last.fm, I’d love if Mini- and MusicStore interfaced with Last.fm.
BTW: Windows Media Player has had a similar feature for a long time, it is however better, because it, so far, hasn’t been tightly integrated with a music store, like iTunes, that has your credit card information stored, and no incentive to market music that isn’t featured in their product catalogue.
One more thing…(pun intended) It’s apparent that I’m not too concerned with privacy, since I’m a web-logger and, by own choice, use other, potentially more seriously, privacy invading, “snooping tools” like iScrobbler and Last.fm.