4 Comments

Summary:

A report in The New York Times says that the mobile app accompanying the Jay-Z’s new music album is collecting a whole lot of personal data, including access to social media accounts on phones. And if that isn’t enough, someone has already cloned it.

YouTube 2012 Upfronts Presentation

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Samsung said it was going to buy a million copies of Jay-Z’s new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail and give them away for free. But like we all very well know, nothing in life is free… not even a lunch (or an app.) Jon Parles, a respected and veteran music writer for the New York Times noted Friday:

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. Sure, Jay-Z probably isn’t the only one offering apps that treat personal relationships as mandatory marketing tools. But with more than half a million downloads, that’s a lot of artificial status updates.

jay-z-samsung

What is worrying is that some folks have already cloned Jay-Z’s android app. A BBC report pointed to McAfee research note:

McAfee Mobile Security has identified a new Android Trojan embedded in a pirated copy of an exclusive app from rapper Jay Z. We suspect the malware author is attempting to go after the demand for the app Magna Carta Holy Grail on pirated sites. The legitimate app has been released exclusively for Samsung devices on Google Play. On the surface, the malware app functions identically to the legit app. But in the in the background, the malware sends info about the infected device to an external server every time the phone restarts. The malware then attempts to download and install additional packages.

We totally understand that Samsung was looking for some good publicity from their partnership with Jay-Z, but one wonders if this is the kind of publicity they had in mind. Of course, in a world where everyone is getting a copy of our data — Facebook, Google, phone companies and the government — should we complain about Jay-Z? I mean, the guy is trying to make a (billion) bucks.

JayZAppHacked

Photo courtesy of McAfee Security

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  1. Eventually people are going to get tried of these tactics or the information will just become so worthless this practice stops, right? I mean it really is a bit annoying now with almost everything we use now requiring a login and wanting to keep track of our data. Yet it does not seem to be slowing down in the slightest

  2. Kunaal Arya Friday, July 5, 2013

    Didn’t really understand the permissions requests backlash on the Jay-Z app. They all seemed like blanket permissions needed so it could download and play the music through the app.

    Access to storage:
    So it can store the album on your USB storage – which it does.

    System Tools:
    Prevents the phone from sleeping so that when you’re playing a song in the app, it doesn’t cut off from auto-sleep.

    Your Location:
    I’ll give them this as not needed.

    Network Access:
    so they could download the files

    Phone Calls:
    So they can pause the music when a phone call comes in

  3. I don’t Understand what the fuss is about? It’s not as if the APP goes behind the back of the user to get access to his/her information? it explicitly requests for the permission. And if the person installer wants to go ahead and installs it, why come on Gigaom and make a fuzz about that?!

  4. sangeetaghodke Saturday, July 20, 2013

    Hello,

    Great post. I always read your blog, really it’s always given me good feeling. I love music I can’t live without music. Keep posting

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