Sunday, January 9, 2011

Terms and Conditions and Apple Privacy Policy

Hi computery people,

I wanted to update my iPhone apps today because the little red 'badge' thingy on the App Store icon excitedly signaled that 46 of my carefully-chosen (ha, as though I read 200,000 descriptions and reviews) apps needed updating. Cool! New features! Exciting. Apple loves risk-takers like me. Maybe those half-baked apps I took a chance on, even though there were only three reviews that curiously had the same spelling errors, will actually work now. Like the app that figures out what color my parachute actually is. There's an app for that. Good, because I have still have no idea. Or the one that can tell me how much that box of Rice-a-Roni costs down at the Safeway instead of what I'll pay for it at the upscale store I'm actually standing in and stupidly prefer, against my better judgment, just because the lighting is full-spectrum instead of what a friend of mine calls 'Frankenstein.' You gotta admit that it is def just too cool that the phone reads the UPC bar code on any box and looks it up, and tells me immediately where I can save 2 cents. All I have to is be willing to look like a cheapskate geek at the gourmet-ghetto grocery store, struggling to focus my iPhone camera on a Rice-a-Roni bar code. At least people leave you alone. They think you are either an artist hard at work, or one pork pie short of a picnic. Last week I used the bar-code app along with the Amazon app to score a case of Acai smoothie mix. 

This assumes I can get a 3G signal at the store, which I usually can't. And don't get me started about how many dropped calls during critical moments I have suffered with my cute 3GS and its $129/mo AT&T service. But it is SO fun calling AT&T tech support to complain and, once I get a real person, saying "Can you h ear m e  nooww?" a couple of times before the call drops. I had to call back on Skype.

Of course, new isn't always better, especially with software and stuff. Maybe things will "break" after you update them. What was once golden (or at least you figured out how to think of the bugs as features but at least it works) suddenly leaves me staring at a steep new learning curve (think vertical) and scratching my head.

Hmm, I thought. Maybe my coolest free apps like Dragon Dictation, that lets me email and text just by talking, will get weird and start to do something like plaster annoying pop-ups on my already-too-small-to-type-on iPhone screen. Sigh. Oh, wait. That already happened last update. I guess the Dragon folk knew they had me hooked because they hear everything I dictate because it's sent upstream to their mega Puff the Magic Dragon mothership server and then analyzed and sent back as text. I'm sure I wrote to somebody, at some point, by voice: "Dude, this Dragon app is the bomb." So now in the middle of dictating emails I get to learn about how much further mortgage rates have dropped because everybody's houses have lost another 10% in value. Or something. (I don't really quite get how that real-estate bubble thingy fiascoed out, but I think it was something about new math, and Bernie somebody.) Anyway, the ads sort of cramp my previously fluid-like, casual email style, due to the additional multi-tasking ADHD load. 

Still, I just love the App Store and all the other "i" stores. Don't you? They're so slick. It makes me feel like Steve Jobs has my back. Or at least somebody down in Cupertino, India does. They know what I have (and probably a whole lot more, like that I'm a closet Karen Carpenter fan, because the iTunes Genius thingy - not to be confused with the Genius GUY at the Apple Store - figured that out somehow). And, based on that, they know what I need. Hey, even I don't know what I need, after years of therapy, so I'm down with that. And, like a good parent or a decent valet (both hard to find lately), some Appley thing reminds me to get it together.

OK, I'm thinking I'll risk it. I'll update all 46 apps. I tap Update All. But there's an iFly in the ointment. 

'...There are a few changes to the terms and conditions that you must agree to before continuing...'  

Below my drivel you can see what was actually sent to my phone when I tried to get in line down at the Appateria. Maybe I'm being a whiner, but really, Steve. I have to agree to 56 pages of legalese, presumably to be read in minuscule print on my iPhone screen, before I can update my dippy apps?

When I see those kinds of agreement buttons, there's that funny feeling, sort of like when your honey asks "Does this dress make me look fat?" -- Um... Let's this a trick question? Alright, so I click OK and see some scary ALL CAPS stuff, and the entire agreement is squished into an itsy-bitsy box that you could develop a case of carpal-tunnel scrolling through. Is this 4 pt Arial, or what? Pinch and zoom? Nope. Hmm. Well, they thoughtfully provided an "Email Me This Stuff Nobody Actually Reads" button, so I choose that, which is how I got the text below, for my casual Cafe Strads perusal over my decaf chai and a slice of apple pie (with whipped cream) late this afternoon.

The super-critical legal update that iApple was anxious for me to read and Agree to apparently had something to do with the groovy new Mac app store that launched today. Wow. Cool. Now I can buy a bunch of apps for my "It Just Works" Mac Mini, too, and get reminded about stuff I need to update all the time, and be bugged to update some more, so it keeps just working. Or, so the app developers just keep working, or something I haven't quite figured out yet. 

Funny, I recently bought, on eBay of course (the cheapskate's hang-out), a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 laptop, made in 1983. This was the first truly-portable laptop. Being obsessively on the bleeding edge, I just had to own one back then. It was $999. Ran 20 hours on 4 AA batteries. Had a full-throw, Selectric-style keyboard. Weighed 3.8 lbs. It never needed updating. And guess what? It still just works, almost 30 years later. Oh, and it cost me $25 this time around. I spent that much on iPhone apps last month, and five times that on my AT&T cellular service.

Seriously, do you ever wonder why they can't just pull out the legalese that has changed, or highlight it, or describe it in plain language to the customer so that when we click Agree, it has a snowball's chance of meaning something? This whole tradition of legal agreements when installing software is beyond me. Do you sign an agreement before reading a book? Before listening to a CD? I've been watching the evolution of this silliness since its beginnings 30 years ago, and its devolution ever since. Virtually NOBODY reads these software-related agreements. Considering the river of recurring updates we now are essentially forced into (now that dissemination from 'the cloud' is so easy for the software companies), it's onerous to require reading every "agreement", and duplicitous of companies to pretend they are protecting their interests, isn't it? I can't imagine that a sensible judge would consider these binding contracts. This silliness reminds me of the high-speed sub-audible 'disclosures' at the end of some TV and radio ads, or pharmaceutical fine print packaged with a drug, warning about dangerous side-effects.

End of rant. But definitely curious what you think about these "agreements." Here are a few choice bits. Most of it I cut out, for fear of creating a viscously long, boring post.

Terms and Conditions and Apple Privacy Policy

• The terms and conditions have been revised to reflect the availability of the Mac App Store.

iTunes Store


Blah, blah, blah…, then:

g. You may not use or otherwise export or re-export the Licensed Application except as authorized by United States law and the laws of the jurisdiction in which the Licensed Application was obtained. In particular, but without limitation, the Licensed Application may not be exported or re-exported (a) into any U.S.-embargoed countries or (b) to anyone on the U.S. Treasury Department's Specially Designated Nationals List or the U.S. Department of Commerce Denied Persons List or Entity List. By using the Licensed Application, you represent and warrant that you are not located in any such country or on any such list. You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture, or production of nuclear, missile, or chemical or biological weapons.

Whoa! The 'Talking Carl' app was more powerful than I thought.

Blah, blah, blah, then:


If you opt in to Ping, you can share information with people who have also opted in to Ping, such as your name, your image, and your interests. The name and image provided will also be associated with all reviews posted about a Product via your Account, including posts prior to opting in. People whom you have permitted to follow you will be able to see your activity on iTunes, such as events you are attending, music that you have indicated that you like, and purchases made with your Account. Your activity on another user's profile, such as comments you make about their activity, is subject to that user's privacy settings and can be viewed by all of that user's followers. You are solely responsible for the information that is associated with your Account that is made available on Ping. Apple may also use information provided, as well as information iTunes sends to Apple about the content you select in your iTunes library in order to provide you with Ping personal recommendations, such as suggesting other users you may want to follow, concerts and related information, or other Products you may want to purchase. By opting in to Ping, you consent to the use of such information in the manner described above. At all times your information will be treated in accordance with Apple's Privacy Policy. You should not opt in to Ping, or should opt out of Ping in your Account settings if you don't want others to view any information provided using your Account, including activity on iTunes. When you opt out, your information will be removed from view, and then deleted after seven days. If you opt out of Ping, or hide the Ping Sidebar, iTunes will no longer send information associated with the content you select in your iTunes library for Ping. You will be able to remove items from your Recent Activity if you do not want them to be visible to other users. Please take extra care when using these features.


To avoid muscle, joint, or eye strain during video game play, you should always take frequent breaks from playing, and take a longer rest if you experience any soreness, fatigue, or discomfort.
A very small percentage of people may experience seizures or blackouts when exposed to flashing lights or patterns, including while playing video games or watching videos. Symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, involuntary movements, loss of awareness, altered vision, tingling, numbness, or other discomforts. Consult a doctor before playing video games if you have ever suffered these or similar symptoms, and stop playing immediately and see a doctor if they occur during game play. Parents should monitor their children's video game play for signs of symptoms.

Blah, blah, blah…then:


Your privacy is important to Apple. So we've developed a Privacy Policy that covers how we collect, use, disclose, transfer, and store your information. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our privacy practices and let us know if you have any questions.

Personal information is data that can be used to uniquely identify or contact a single person.

You may be asked to provide your personal information anytime you are in contact with Apple or an Apple affiliated company. Apple and its affiliates may share this personal information with each other and use it consistent with this Privacy Policy. They may also combine it with other information to provide and improve our products, services, content, and advertising.

Here are some examples of the types of personal information Apple may collect and how we may use it.

What personal information we collect

■ When you create an Apple ID, register your products, apply for commercial credit, purchase a product, download a software update, register for a class at an Apple Retail Store, or participate in an online survey, we may collect a variety of information, including your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, contact preferences, and credit card information.

■ When you share your content with family and friends using Apple products, send gift certificates and products, or invite others to join you on Apple forums, Apple may collect the information you provide about those people such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.

■ In the U.S., we may ask for your Social Security number (SSN) but only in limited circumstances such as when setting up a wireless account and activating your iPhone or when determining whether to extend commercial credit

…..and then…

Disclosure to Third Parties

Service Providers

Apple shares personal information with companies who provide services such as information processing, extending credit, fulfilling customer orders, delivering products to you, managing and enhancing customer data, providing customer service, assessing your interest in our products and services, and conducting customer research or satisfaction surveys. These companies are obligated to protect your information and may be located wherever Apple operates.


It may be necessary − by law, legal process, litigation, and/or requests from public and governmental authorities within or outside your country of residence − for Apple to disclose your personal information. We may also disclose information about you if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate.

We may also disclose information about you if we determine that disclosure is reasonably necessary to enforce our terms and conditions or protect our operations or users. Additionally, in the event of a reorganization, merger, or sale we may transfer any and all personal information we collect to the relevant third party.

Apple may update its Privacy Policy from time to time. When we change the policy in a material way, a notice will be posted on our website along with the updated Privacy Policy.

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