One of our readers pointed out that the application that we reviewed a while back to anonymize iTunes songs had been down for a while. He suggested another method of getting rid of user identifying data in iTunes. The iTunes plus songs contain three obvious fields that can be used to identify the user. The EFF is suspecting that each song might contain even more fields that can be used to identify the user.
The actual process of anonymizing itunes songs involves the usage of two different programs: Atomic Parsley and Hexfiend. Atomic Parsley will be used to remove the application ID which is usually the email address of the user who purchased the song and the purchase data. The software is available for Windows, Linux and Mac.
A basic command that can be very helpful is to display all information about a song using the software. To do this run the following command:
atomicparsley song.m4u -t
This will list all tags and their values in the same command window making it easy to spot the identifying ones.
Tags can be removed with the command
atomicparsley song.m4a –manualAtomRemove “moov.udta.meta.ilst.TAG”
where TAG has to be replaced with a valid name. To remove both the application ID and purchase data from an iTunes song one would issue the following command:
atomicparsley song.m4a –-manualAtomRemove “moov.udta.meta.ilst.apID” –-manualAtomRemove “moov.udta.meta.ilst.purd” -W
An alternative would be to remove all tag information at once using the following command which is currently the only way to ensure that the song will not contain user identifying information afterwards. It will however clear all tags including title, artist and other related tags.
AtomicParsley song.m4a –metaEnema
After finishing the first step of anonymizing iTunes songs we still have to remove the name of the buyer that is contained in the songs. To do that a hexeditor like Hexfiend is needed. Simply open the iTunes song in Hexfiend and search for the name. Once the name is found replace it with other chars that match the exact length of the name. Save the file under a different file name and check out that it still plays fine in your favorite music player.