iTunes phone home irks users

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The feature in the latest version of iTunes that phones home user information can be easily disabled, security experts said this week.

Apple did not disclose the presence of a program that sends information back with this week's release of iTunes 6.0.2. Apple representatives have said the company discards the information, according to numerous media reports.

A number of weblogs expressed outrage over the software this week.

The MiniStore can be easily disabled, according to at least one security expert. Users can disable the MiniMarket by hitting Shift-Command-M or by choosing "Hide MiniStore" under the "Edit" directory of iTunes, Kirk McElhearn said on his Kirkville site.

The company should also have been more forthcoming, McElhearn said.

"Apple blew it here, as mentioned above, by not being forthcoming about what this feature was doing, and lost some of the credibility that the company had developed over the years. It would not have taken much to correctly present this feature and reassure users as to the type of information that it transmits to Apple and other companies," he said. "In the meantime, until Apple is totally clear about what this feature does and what information it harvests, one can only assume that it is indeed collecting information, or that, at a minimum, the potential to do so exists."

In recent months, Sony-BMG Entertainment faced a public relations nightmare following the exposure of rootkit-like Extended Copyright Protection (XCP) and MediaMax technology on its CDs.

Sony has agreed to give customers who purchased an affected disc either cash, a replacement CD or downloadable music. The settlement was in response to a handful of lawsuits filed against the music giant late last year.

The media firestorm erupted in November over the data management applications, forcing Sony to recall CDs containing XCP technology, made by London-based First4Internet. The company recently said it will also stop making CDs containing the similar MediaMax, which is created by Phoenix-based SunnComm.

Both MediaMax and XCP have been found to install software on PCs without warning the user.

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