From a story by Michael Calore for Wired’s Listening Post music weblog about the user-identifying metadata stored in the new DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks:
“There’s absolutely no reason that it had to be embedded, unencrypted and in the clear,” said Fred von Lohmann, a senior intellectual property attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Some of the privacy problems, in light of this, is that anyone who steals an iPod that includes purchased iTunes music will now have the name and e-mail address of its rightful owner.”
Responding to this statement, Alastair Houghton astutely notes that privacy and anonymity are not the same thing:
(For those who are wondering, I put privacy in quotes when I talk about “privacy” advocates, because most of them are not, in fact, advocating privacy. Instead, the majority advocate anonymity, which is quite different and has many effects that are detrimental to the rest of society [for instance, it’s much easier and safer to commit fraud and other crimes if you have anonymity…]. Fred von Lohmann’s comments suggest that he is one of these anonymity advocates.)
What these complaints about the iTunes Plus metadata remind me of is a joke:
A grandmother is sitting at the beach, watching her young grandson play in the water. Suddenly, an enormous wave crashes over the boy’s head, and when it recedes, the boy is gone, washed out to sea.
Frantic, the grandmother cries out to God, “Lord, what has my grandson done to deserve this? Please bring him back to me, and I’ll forever be grateful to you!”
Moments later, another enormous wave crashes against the shoreline, returning the boy to the beach, soaked but unharmed. He begins happily digging in the sand, oblivious to what just occurred.
The grandmother looks at the boy, then raises her head to the sky. She shouts, “He had a hat!”