U2 boo big Bono
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.