Jay-Z's 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' App Under Investigation

Electronic Privacy Information Center argues Samsung software was invasive

Jay-Z performs in London, England.
Joseph Okpako/Getty Images
July 16, 2013 3:10 PM ET

The advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the app created by Jay-Z and Samsung to distribute the rapper's latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail.

Summer Tour Preview 2013: Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake

In order to download the LP via the app, users were required to grant the Samsung-exclusive program access to such information as their age and Facebook and Twitter info, as well as release data regarding their location, phone calls and networks. Furthermore, users were required to grant the app permission to post on social media sites on their behalf, and a status update was necessary if a user wanted to access a lyric sheet. An estimated 1.2 million people downloaded the app.

"Samsung failed to disclose material information about the privacy practices of the app, collected data unnecessary to the functioning of the Magna Carta App, deprived users of meaningful choice regarding the collection of their data, interfered with device functionality and failed to implement reasonable data minimization procedures," EPIC claimed, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Samsung has responded to the group's complaint with the FTC, saying that the MCHG app's permissions were standard and in line with other applications. "Any information obtained through the application download process was purely for customer verification purposes, app functionality purposes and for marketing communications, but only if the customer requests to receive those marketing communications," the electronics giant said in a statement. "Samsung is in no way inappropriately using or selling any information obtained from users through the download process."

Nevertheless, EPIC is asking the FTC to not just investigate Samsung, but also requested that they restrict Samsung's "data collection to the user data necessary to run the app" and "delete the user data that was improperly obtained."

Jeremiah Reynolds, a lawyer at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump and Aldisert who specializes in intellectual property law, said EPIC's complaint would probably not register with the FTC, however, as users ultimately granted the app permission to obtain their information.

Jay-Z, for his part, responded to a question from Politico reporter Dan Byers about the app's invasive privacy requirements during an extensive Twitter Q&A: "sux must do better," Hov said.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »