Wednesday's launch of The Daily, Rupert Murdoch's iPad-exclusive newspaper, brought changes to the iTunes terms of service that accommodate in-app subscriptions, a new feature utilized by News Corp.'s digital publication.
The Daily is a free iPad download, but accessing its content requires a one-time payment of forty bucks for a year's worth of access. Alternatively, readers can opt for recurring 99-cent-a-week payments.
The latter is a first for iTunes, but there's a catch that doesn't immediately become apparent when iTunes puts up a dialogue requiring you to accept new terms of service. Nobody reads this legal mambo jumbo and many will just hit the Accept button without giving it a second thought.
But take a closer look and you'll realize you're giving Apple your approval to send your name, email address and ZIP code to third parties:
The wording is a bit ambiguous, but it appears you cannot subscribe to in-app content without choosing to share your information beforehand. It gets worse: Apple takes no responsibility for the Licensor's actions.
The new policy is an 180-degree turn for the iPhone maker that used to pride itself with treating iTunes customer information with the utmost confidentiality. iPhone apps had been unable to access your billing information in the past because middleman Apple - which runs the App Store, controls the iTunes accounts and takes care of the billing process - would prohibit this.
But magazine and newspaper publishers were reportedly courting Apple to come up with sensible ways of using your information for marketing and advertising. Your ZIP code, for example, can help an advertiser that bought ad slot in The Daily to limit an ad's exposure to California readers. Apple's iTunes chief Eddie Cue promised at The Daily unveiling to detail the new paid subscriptions feature in due time, possibly next week.
Meanwhile, European publishers reportedly feel betrayed by Apple and plan an emergency summit later this month in London to assess the situation. Apple is expected to open their doors to other publishers and that might pave the way for a rumored digital newsstand in iTunes. The mention of the non-existent Manage App Subscription option in the updated terms of service throws some weight behind the rumor, as does Apple's recent rejection of Sony's e-reader app.
I can confirm the new iTunes policy that hit me in the face when I tried downloading an app the other day. Strangely enough, the updated iTunes Terms of Service on Apple's site wasn't updated with new information at press time. I've included the segment about paid subscriptions for your reference below.
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