Privacy group files complaint over Jay-Z's Samsung app
Privacy group files complaint over Jay-Z's Samsung app

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has made a formal complaint about the recently released Jay-Z Android app, saying it "collected massive amounts of personal information from users and required substantial user permissions".

The Brooklyn rapper released the app as a promotion for his new album and it was available to users of some Samsung devices.

However, EPIC said in its complaint that 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 minimisation procedures.

As well as requiring users to register or sign in via their Twitter or Facebook account, the app collected numbers dialled, sensitive log data, mobile site and WiFi locations. The number of permissions requested was described as “verges on parody”. This included full network access, the ability to read phone status and identity and gathering email addresses and social media user names connected to the phone.

The version of the application that could be installed on a mobile device would gather information from the user's address book and contacts lists. The app was downloaded by more than 500,000 users.

EPIC alleged that in listing the permissions requested by the Jay-Z Magna Carta app, Samsung failed to disclose the purposes for which it collected users' information. This included Samsung not explaining why it collected users' approximate location, precise location, unique device identifiers, phone numbers and phone numbers called, application usage information, log files, and WiFi network and connected device identifiers and that users could not reasonably avoid the inadequate disclosures regarding the purposes for which their data was collected.

“The Magna Carta app served no useful purpose other than to capture user data, to control access to music downloads and to provide incremental access to lyrical content in exchange for access to social media accounts,” the complaint alleged.

The app was alleged as being likely to cause substantial injury to consumers as users could not switch off or opt out of any of these functions.

In a statement, Samsung said that it was aware of the complaint and called it “baseless”.

It said: “Samsung takes customer privacy and the protection of personal information very seriously. 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.

“Our permissions are in line with other apps' standard permissions. Samsung is in no way inappropriately using or selling any information obtained from users through the download process.”