More SpyWare from Apple - Macenstein

More SpyWare from Apple

Posted by Helper Monkey

OK, “spyware� might be a bit sensationalist, but when you are a conspiracy theorist like myself, ANY invasion of privacy, however good-intentioned, sends up the red flags.

Case in point. Remember back in January all the commotion about Apple’s 6.0.2 iTunes update, which in addition to a couple “bug fixes� (yeah right) Apple also used to spring the iTunes mini store upon us? There was much concern that Apple was sending back data about the music we have on our computers, and then using that to generate suggestions about other titles we may want to buy from the online store. Well, 7 days later, Apple revised its disclosure policy, and all was right with the world once again.

Until last week that is.

Apple was so update happy (with updates to iTunes, QuickTime, and OS X) that most of us missed a seemingly benign “feature� of the latest OS update. Luckily for us, the Red Sweater Blog was on the ball, and now we once again have something to blow out of proportion.

It seems that OS X 10.4.7 installs a little background app called dashboardadvisoryd. What this seems to do is check every day for newer versions of widgets you have installed on your system, presumably so you can always be sure you have the latest and greatest. However, in order to do so, it first must collect info from your computer, and then send that info to Apple, all without asking.

Check out your Activity Monitor. Is it spyware, or just a friend you haven’t met yet?

This is still a far cry from Microsoft’s “Microsoft Genuine Advantage� program, but still, any time data is collected about a user’s computer and then sent out to someone without their approval, it is technically spyware IMHO.

I would hope that sometime this week Apple releases a more detailed description of just what data it is collecting, and offers users a choice to turn it on or off, much like the Software Update feature. Perhaps even make “Check for updated Widgets� a part of Software Update.

In the meantime, if you are too worried about Apple eyeing your widgets, the folks over at Wired’s Cult of Mac blog have a terminal trick you can perform to turn the thing off. While it is certainly nothing I am too worried about (after all, maybe Apple can use it to check your system for those rumored “self-installing evil widgetsâ€? and prompt you to remove them) it IS nice to have a choice.

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