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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on July 9th, 2013 at 3:53 am

Why Jay-Z and Samsung Want Your Personal Data

Over at the Marmot’s Hole they have an interesting post over there based on the below NY Times article that discusses how Jay-Z and Samsung want to mine your smartphone for your personal data:

In “Jay’s Back ASAP,” a song on a 2010 mixtape called “Creative Control,” Jay-Z was indignant about phone surveillance and bribing witnesses: “They tap, them feds don’t play fair/They pay rats to say that they’re part of your operation,” he rapped. But to market his new album, “Magna Carta … Holy Grail,” he didn’t exactly stand on principle.

Samsung bought a million downloads of the album, for $5 each, to be given away on July 4 — five days before the album’s official release — through a mobile application, JAY Z Magna Carta, on certain Samsung models. It’s an ugly piece of software.

It demands permissions, including reading the phone’s status and identity, which made some users, notably the rapper Killer Mike, suspicious: Does Jay-Z really need to log my calls? It also gathers “accounts,” the e-mail addresses and social-media user names connected to the phone. Those permissions are often part of a typical app package. This one got worse.

When installed, it demanded a working log in to Facebook or Twitter and permission to post on the account. “We would like fans to share the content through social networking sites,” a Jay-Z spokeswoman said by e-mail. (E-mail to Samsung Mobile’s customer service address for the app was returned as undeliverable throughout Wednesday.) But the app was more coercive.

In the days before the album’s release through Samsung, the app promised to display lyrics — with a catch. “Unlocking” the lyrics required a post on Facebook or Twitter. I used Twitter, where hitting the “Tweet” button brought up a canned message: “I just unlocked a new lyric ‘Crown’ in the JAY Z Magna Carta app. See them first. #MagnaCarta.” The message could be altered, but something had to be sent. No post, no lyrics — for every song. Users were forced to post again and again. And frankly, a lyric that is going to show up almost immediately on the Internet isn’t much of a bribe for spamming your friends.  [NY Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but basically this is nothing new because there are many apps for smartphones that request permission to access your contacts and other information on your phone.  This is just interesting because this is the first time I can remember a famous musician being so blatantly involved in corporate data mining of its customers.

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  • Sonagi
    6:20 am on July 9th, 2013 1

    A famous musician who complained about government intrusion, no less.

  • Liz
    7:48 am on July 9th, 2013 2

    I guess he figures anyone downloading the software has “accepted the terms and conditions that allow” their personal information and accounts to be exploited.

    All part of the ‘when you pay, you’re the customer, when you don’t pay you’re the product’ paradigm I guess.

  • Sonagi
    7:57 am on July 9th, 2013 3

    I don’t have a problem with JayZ mining data from willing users. I have a problem with his hypocritical rapping about government wiretapping, which is also legal.

  • Sonagi
    8:07 am on July 9th, 2013 4

    Your customer/product paradigm quip is spot-on.


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