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Why Is Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail Samsung App Coming Under Fire Right Now?

Submitted by on July 17, 2013 – 12:51 pm2 Comments

When Jay-Z first announced that he would be releasing his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, through an app available exclusively through Samsung, many people called him a genius. And rightfully so. Jay-Z teaming up with Samsung to release MCHG as part of his “#NewRules” campaign was a great idea, and it helped him sell one million copies of the album before it even hit stores. Mark our words: Jay-Z’s partnership with Samsung will change the way that rappers—and other artists for that matter—release projects in the future. But at least one group that advocates privacy thinks Jay-Z and Samsung should have handled the release of MCHG a lot differently.

Electronic Privacy Information Center—a group that’s focused on helping people keep their personal information private when they use technology—just called on the FCC to investigate the app that was used to release MCHG. Why? Well, they say that the app, which allowed Samsung to access certain things on users’ phones, violated the privacy of everyone who downloaded it and used it to obtain MCHG.

“Samsung failed to disclose material information about the privacy practices of the App, collected data unnecessary to the functioning of the Magna Carta app, deprived users of meaningful choice regarding the collection of their data, interfered with device functionality, and failed to implement reasonable data minimization procedures,” the group said in a statement that was sent to the FCC.

For their part, Samsung has denied that they did anything wrong. They’ve come out and said that any and all info that was collected was used “purely for customer verification purposes, app functionality purposes, and for marketing communications.” But the EPIC complaint still makes us a little uneasy. Samsung makes it sounds like we have nothing to worry about. But to a degree, we all give up some privacy whenever we download an app like the one used to distribute MCHG. And if that’s the only way to get music in the future, shouldn’t we all be up in arms about it? Do we really have to compromise our privacy in exchange for music?

We’ll have to monitor how other artists choose to distribute music through apps in the future and what kind of privacy issues arise from those apps. But for now, this story about the MCHG app leaves a bad taste in our mouths. And if the FCC does decide to pursue action against Samsung, it could spell the end of artists distributing music through apps. #NewRules be damned.

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