According to a class action antitrust lawsuit reported in the Wall Street Journal, Apple has allegedly not only been secretly uploading U2 albums onto users’ devices, but intentionally removed tracks downloaded from rival music services without informing iPod owners between 2007 and 2009.
Patrick Coughlin, attorney for the plaintiffs, accused Apple of giving consumers “the worst possible experience” by deleting music purchased from other digital vendors and then instructing the operating system not to “tell users the problem.” During the time period alleged in the suit, when users attempted to sync an iPod carrying rival files with iTunes an error message would appear, followed by a “restore factory settings” prompt that would help ensure the content was not only kept from iTunes, but removed from the iPod entirely. Apple has claimed that the deletions were part of a security measure, because foreign tracks not vetted by Apple’s iTunes service could contain viruses.
When pressed as to why this “service” was performed without users’ knowledge or consent, Apple security director Augustin Farrugia answered “we don’t need to give users too much information,” adding, “we don’t want to confuse users.” It’s an argument that’s not only vaguely insulting to Apple customers, but contradicts the baffling standard-issue Software License Agreements that regularly confront Apple users. (It also feeds into Samsung’s recent advertising campaign that portrays Apple customers as out of touch.)
Farrugia said that the actions were taken after Apple identified specific attackers, and that at one point, “the system was totally hacked.”By “systems” being “hacked” Farrugia was presumably referring to cited bad actors like “DVD Jon” and “Requiem,” and not Apple allegedly accessing users’ systems in an unexpected way in order to silently destroy digital property that wasn’t theirs. Testimony from Apple executives, including a videotaped 2011 deposition from the late Steve Jobs, are scheduled this week.