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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.

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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.

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