Apple widget checks raise eyebrows

by admin July 6, 2006 at 4:20 am

A few Mac users are concerned about a feature in the latest update to Mac OS that directs their computers to check in with Apple Computer’s servers on a regular basis without the user’s knowledge or permission.

Apple released an update to Mac OS last week that fixed a few bugs and added some features. One feature Apple added was described as the ability to verify that a widget was an authentic program. Widgets are small software programs that provide Mac users with little bits of useful information, like the weather report or stock tickers.

Some bloggers have become concerned that Apple is collecting information without their authorization, after the recent furor caused by Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage Notification program. Microsoft inserted a prerelease program in a regular Windows update that checks Windows PCs to make sure they are running a genuine copy of the operating system, but the company included that beta feature without telling users and has since posted instructions on how to remove it after a backlash.

Apple’s Dashboard Advisory verification software was designed as a security feature, a company representative said. “Apple takes protecting user privacy very seriously. The Dashboard Advisory feature is a security tool that ensures that the correct version of a widget has been downloaded from a third-party site and no personal information is transmitted back to Apple,” the company said in a statement.

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