Apple admits to deleting songs off iPods without asking

The company was deleting songs downloaded from other services, says it was for security reasons

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 4, 2014
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What is it with Apple and trying to control the music that people have on their devices?

Earlier this year the company inundated and irritated iOS users with the new U2 album that literally nobody asked for on all of their devices and now the company is being accused of something similar, but much more nefarious.

For years Apple was criticized for its policy of encrypting song that were downloaded from iTunes, which made it so that they could not be played on any other MP3 player besides the iPod, and on now attorneys for consumers in anti-trust case said that Apple was also doing the reverse by secretly deleting songs from iPods without even informing users, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Here is what happened, according to attorney Patrick Coughlin: users would download music from other services besides iTunes and then try to sync their iPod to their iTunes. Apple, however, would tell the user that there was an error and tell them that they had to restore the device to factory settings. 

Once they did that, the music that the person had downloaded from services other than iTunes would be deleted off the device. 

When a user who had downloaded music from a rival service tried to sync an iPod to the user’s iTunes library, Apple would display an error message and instruct the user to restore the factory settings, Coughlin said. When the user restored the settings, the music from rival services would disappear, he said.

The practice apparently went on for roughly three years, from 2007 through 2009.

Apple, for its part, did not deny that they had done this , but rather explained that it was borne out of security concerns. In his testimony, Augustin Farrugia, Apple's security director, said hackers made the company "very paranoid” and that deleting any non-Apple music files was an attempt to stop future hackings.

He also said that that Apple did not tell people because the company thought that users would not understand why it was doing this, though saying it is for security reasons seems easy enough to grasp.

“We don’t need to give users too much information," he is quoted as saying. “We don’t want to confuse users.”

The class action lawsuit that Apple finds itself in was brought about by consumers who accused the company of stifling competition and forcing them to buy Apple products to listen to the music they had downloaded. The suit is a decade old, and the plaintiffs are asking for $350 million, though the payout could be triple that amount due to antitrust laws.

VatorNews has reached out to Apple for comment on the accusations. We will update this story if we learn more. 

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