U2 boo big Bono

Mac Format - - APPLEOPINION -

TIME says Ap­ple and Bono are work­ing on a piracy-proof mu­sic for­mat. Hang on. I thought they’d al­ready in­vented it? The U2 al­bum that turned up in every­body’s iTunes li­brary wasn’t just pi­rate-proof; it ac­tu­ally had pi­rates moan­ing about be­ing forced to take mu­sic with­out pay­ing for it.

I couldn’t re­sist a chuckle at Ap­ple’s U2 re­moval tool, but the story isn’t a funny one. It’s been a tough time for cloud ser­vices, and foist­ing mu­sic on us isn’t help­ing.

Songs of In­no­cence wasn’t the first Ap­ple free­bie, of course – iBooks orig­i­nally came with a free copy of Win­nie the Pooh – but it was dif­fer­ent in one key way. Ap­ple didn’t bun­dle it in a mu­sic app or of­fer it as a free down­load. It added it to your pur­chases, so if you had au­to­matic downloads en­abled you got the al­bum whether you wanted it or not.

I know some of you will say ‘Boo-hoo. Just delete it and get over your­self’, but the is­sue isn’t the mu­sic. It’s the method. If you didn’t know about the give­away, you might as­sume you’ve been hacked. How else would you end up with songs you know you didn’t buy?

That’s a prob­lem for two rea­sons. First of all, one of the good things about Ap­ple kit is

You might as­sume you’ve been hacked, since you’re end­ing up with U2 songs you know you didn’t buy

that it doesn’t come stuffed with things you don’t want (the Stocks app ex­cepted). Foist­ing U2 on us changes that: as much as I ad­mire Tim Cook, I don’t want delet­ing his mu­sic choices to be­come a reg­u­lar part of my elec­tronic house­keep­ing.

It’s also a prob­lem be­cause it breaks one of the two prom­ises of cloud-based ser­vices: that things won’t ap­pear on your de­vices with­out your per­mis­sion or knowl­edge.

The other prom­ise, of course, is that things you store in the cloud won’t end up fall­ing into the wrong hands – and Ap­ple has been im­pli­cated in that, too. The leak of celebri­ties’ in­ti­mate photographs from iCloud in Septem­ber doesn’t ap­pear to be the re­sult of a se­cu­rity flaw – it seems to be the re­sult of weak pass­words, guess­able se­cu­rity ques­tions and so­cial en­gi­neer­ing too – but nev­er­the­less, more than 100 women’s pri­vate photographs were stolen and cir­cu­lated.

Crit­i­cism of the ‘they should have en­abled two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion and used stronger pass­words’ va­ri­ety isn’t just vic­tim-blam­ing; it’s also miss­ing an im­por­tant point. Those peo­ple had an ex­pec­ta­tion of pri­vacy and se­cu­rity and Ap­ple didn’t live up to it. Risks and the tools to re­duce those risks ex­ist, but they aren’t be­ing com­mu­ni­cated well enough.

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