Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta’ App Raises Privacy Issues, Including Killer Mike


Jay-Z and Samsung’s “Magna Carta” app may have been downloaded by more than half a million people since it launched on June 24, but rapper Killer Mike isn’t one of them.

Why not? Killer Mike on Tuesday Tweeted a photo of his screen as he tried to download the app, which promises to give the first 1 million downloaders of the app a free copy of Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” on July 4th, three days ahead of the album’s release. Killer Mike’s screen shows that the app, developed by Samsung as a joint promotion, wanted Killer Mike’s permission to “modify or delete contents of your USB storage,” “prevent phone from sleeping” in order to retrieve running apps, access “approximate network location” as well as “precise GPS location,” full network communication access and “read phone status and identity,” among other things. To this, Mike tweeted, “Naw I’m cool.”

It’s not unusual for apps to requests access to this information. Many apps, such as Google Maps, require precise GPS data to provide directions. Preventing a phone from sleeping is desirable when people don’t want their music streams to stop playing just because the listener hasn’t touched the screen in 10 minutes. And when apps are updated, they frequently need to modify how much storage they eat up. Samsung, which purchased the album copies for $5 million and funded the app to promote its Galaxy brand mobile devices, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why the Jay-Z app required such access.

At the same time time, data collection is becoming a high priority among digital music marketers hoping to learn as much as they can about their fans and potential customers. Balancing that with respect for individual privacy is a tightrope act, one in which the tightrope is constantly shifting beneath the feet. This is because popular perception of what’s acceptable can fluctuate based on current events and vary by demographic.



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