News: Jay-Z's Samsung App Sparks FTC Investigation

Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 11:35AM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

Weeks after rap mogul Jay-Z raised eyebrows by teaming up with Samsung to promote and launch his new Magna Carta Holy Grail solo album, a privacy group is now seeking an investigation into the tech giant's usage of an accompanying application.

According to reports, a company claims Samsung did not promptly inform its users of the actions it would take upon them downloading the Jay-Z app onto their devices.

Now he's got 100 problems. Rapper Jay-Z was widely praised for his business savvy after he announced a plan to give away 1 million copies of his new album to Samsung Galaxy smartphone users through a special app. But that app has generated a slew of complaints from users, and even a fellow rapper, worried about data it collects. Now the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, an advocacy group, is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. "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 the complaint. (Los Angeles Times)

Samsung has already responded to the complaint and stood behind the app.

"Any information obtained through the application download process was purely for customer verification purposes, app functionality purposes, and for marketing communications, but only if the customer requests to receive those marketing communications," Samsung said in a statement. "Samsung is in no way inappropriately using or selling any information obtained from users through the download process." The app, which was installed by more than half a million people, let Galaxy users download the album, dubbed "Magna Carta Holy Grail," on July 4, three days before its general release date. But the app required a number of permissions users had to approve before they downloaded the music and other features, including lyric sheets. The app accessed substantial information, including data about users' location, telephone numbers dialed, networks and other applications on the phone, according to the EPIC filing. (Los Angeles Times)

Following its July 4 Samsung release, some reports suggested the unexpected amount of users trying to get the app ultimately resulted in multiple technical glitches.

At least that's how it was supposed to work. By 12:30 a.m., enraged fans took to Twitter and Google Play to moan about the 99 problems they were having trying to get the thing to work. A source in Jay's camp says the app got 20 million requests in the first hour alone, which crashed it. I tried poking my phone's app far into the night without success. The next morning, I found the music, not via Samsung but through the wonders of the Web. (Thank you, illegal file sharing). (New York Daily News)

Atlanta's Killer Mike may have foreshadowed some of these issues after publicly revealing he would not agree to Samsung's privacy policy demand to download the album a few days prior to its release.

"I read this and........"Naw I'm cool" pic.twitter.com/x8fXPG1tvC," he tweeted.
"@KillerMikeGTO The reason they need access to your storage is when they do updates. unneeded data, they delete just to fix bugs etc," Mike retweeted July 2.
"Say @THAcAUSEofDEATH WTF are u talm bout. I like the Rapper Jay Z. Infact longer than U. But I am not comfortable with that."
"@Skritchin @THAcAUSEofDEATH "Nigga act like I said Fuck Jay he weak". I ain't a sucka who says Suck shit. I am a man that has a standard."
"U Niggas will never B "Jay Z". He know it. I know it & inside we booth giggle (Like he did on @RealTimers) that u Dont. #ReasonableDoubt" (Killer Mike's Twitter)

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