Jay-Z vs. the FTC? Privacy Group Complains About 'Magna Carta' App

Data drama continues to surround Jigga's Samsung release

Jay-Z Samsung Magna Carta Holy Grail App Privacy FTC
Want to get into this door? We'll have to see your junk first. Photo by Getty Images
Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins

The arrival of Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail was a major event — not just because the man is one of the most respected rappers in the game, but because the marketing campaign built around the thing was about as extensive as the fella's mixed-media empire. And the delivery system — a team-up with Samsung that had one side (Hova's) shouting "#newrules!" and the other (everyone else) shouting "sellout!" — came with its own universe of concern.

Not only did the MCHG app polarize fans and media, it: a) split the music industry insiders who tally sales figures; b) didn't actually work very well; and c) pissed off Killer Mike, who gave up on downloading the thing when it started asking him for what appeared to be an excessive amount of permissions and a troubling degree of access. As it turns out, the Run the Jewels MC and his compatriots in the Twittersphere weren't the only ones to raise an eyebrow.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, an advocacy group called the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has taken up the cause and asked the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a formal investigation into Jay-Z's Samsung app, pointing out that the program demanded call histories, location data, and social media connections. It also asked for the ability to delete storage, and to prevent the phone from entering sleep mode, among other nuisances.

"Samsung failed to disclose material information about the privacy practices of the app," EPIC wrote in a complaint. "[They] 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." Of course, smartphone users are fairly accustomed to such things.

Still, you'd think Jigga would be a little sensitive about privacy, with Congress all up in his and Beyoncé's business as of late. An intellectual property lawyer that the Times spoke to said it's unlikely the FTC will be interested in the case. And Samsung too seemed fairly confident of their safety in a statement issued in response to the accusations:

"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. Samsung is in no way inappropriately using or selling any information obtained from users through the download process."

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