Spotify Demands Our Privacy, Gets Yelled At, Says Sorry


Spotify kicked up their privacy policy, and now the music streaming platform wants to… see your photos and know where you’re going? Or maybe just give you the option of putting your latest selfie atop a new playlist? Either way, users weren’t happy, and Spotify CEO Daniel Elk just apologized for trying to raid our phones.

Spotify recently levied a giant new update that Wired boiled down to the scariest points:

Spotify wants to see and collect your photos and messages.

It doesn’t actually need to, so it’s unclear why this is even on the table—unless they’re trying to create another social media platform on their interface.

Spotify wants to know your location and how fast you’re moving.

Maybe city-based playlists? The moving part is not all that weird because part of this update is to cull music for running playlists, which are pretty cool, I’ve used them on my own account. The music’s tempo matches your speed.

Spotify wants to be friends with you on Facebook.

This is probably to gain access to whatever other images, information and data they missed in the first part of this update.

If you’re not interested in these updates, Spotify will show you the door.

“If you don’t agree with the terms of this Privacy Policy, then please don’t use the Service.” – Spotify

Customers should have the option to opt out, which we don’t right now.

On one hand, this could be the time to transfer all of those playlists you’ve been meaning to re-make in Apple Music and cut off Spotify. Or, you could just settle into a puddle of tears that this is what listening to music today has come to, Skynet from The Terminator.

The Verge took the contrary opinion and gave Spotify CEO Daniel Elk a chance to (fight on Twitter with Minecraft creator Markus Persson) explain himself.

“Twitter doesn’t need your photos. But it’s nice that I can post a photo,” explains Ek. “Similarly, I’d argue it’s a nice thing that I can upload a photo to my playlist to personalize it.” So it’s clear that the photos addition isn’t to harvest all of your nudes like some crazy jealous ex, but to introduce a new feature to change profile pictures or personalize playlist photos. That makes a lot more sense than stealing your entire camera roll. Equally, Ek reveals that the contacts addition is for a new way to find friends that use Spotify rather than a evil way to harvest your address book and prank call your mom.

Then the new privacy policy backlash turned into a wave of former Spotify customers announcing they’d ended their subscriptions until conditions improve. This forced Elk off Twitter and into blog where he apologized for the confusion around 10 a.m. Friday morning:

On photos:

We will never access your photos without explicit permission and we will never scan or import your photo library or camera roll. If you give us permission to access photos, we will only use or access images that you specifically choose to share.

On location:

We will never gather or use the location of your mobile device without your explicit permission. We would use it to help personalize recommendations or to keep you up to date about music trending in your area. And if you choose to share location information but later change your mind, you will always have the ability to stop sharing.

On voice:

We will never access your microphone without your permission.

On contacts:

We will never scan or import your contacts without your permission. Spotify is a social platform and many people like to share playlists and music they discover with their friends. In the future, we may want to give you the ability to find your friends on Spotify by searching for Spotify users in your contacts if you choose to do that.

On sharing:

The Privacy Policy also mentions advertisers, rights holders and mobile networks. This is not new. With regard to mobile networks, some Spotify subscribers sign up through their mobile provider, which means some information is shared with them by necessity. We also share some data with our partners who help us with marketing and advertising efforts, but this information is de-identified – your personal information is not shared with them.

Ultimately, Spotify is now revising their new privacy policy, most likely with a corresponding blog post to explain themselves.

I think I’m going to listen to old physical mixtapes today while pouring out a little PG Tips.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via Spotify.

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