Spotify’s new privacy policy sounds so intrusive it’s already apologised for it

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Spotify has managed to create a bit of a mess for itself when it comes to its stance on user privacy – all thanks to a controversial new policy the firm is rolling out.

The Scandinavian music streamer announced it was changing its privacy policy from August 19, and updated its website accordingly. But since then users who decided to take a closer look at it found that it was incredibly intrusive for what is just an app to listen to music.

“With your permission, we may collect information stored on your mobile device, such as contacts, photos, or media files. Local law may require that you seek the consent of your contacts to provide their personal information to Spotify, which may use that information for the purposes specified in this Privacy Policy.”

Yes, you did read that right – Spotify is suggesting it will collect contacts and photos that are stored on your phone. Unsurprisingly this drew alarm from users of the service.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

Such was the backlash that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek took it upon himself to post a blog on the subject. One that was entitled Sorry!

“We are in the middle of rolling out new terms and conditions and privacy policy and they’ve caused a lot of confusion about what kind of information we access and what we do with it. We apologize for that,” he wrote.

“We should have done a better job in communicating what these policies mean and how any information you choose to share will – and will not – be used.

“So let me try and clear things up.

“In our new privacy policy, we indicated that we may ask your permission to access new types of information, including photos, mobile device location, voice controls, and your contacts. Let me be crystal clear here: If you don’t want to share this kind of information, you don’t have to. We will ask for your express permission before accessing any of this data – and we will only use it for specific purposes that will allow you to customise your Spotify experience.”

Ek then explained that photos will not be accessed without “explicit permission”, and that there will be no scanning or importing of a user’s photo albums or camera roll. He added that only images specifically chosen to share would be accessed by Spotify – “to create personalised cover art for a playlist or to change your profile image, for example”, he said.

He finished the note by saying that Spotify would now be tweaking the policy in the coming weeks and that the service had heard user concerns “loud and clear”.

It’s an untimely mess to get caught in with Apple Music fresh on the scene, and it remains to be seen if those users who said they were going to stop using Spotify will reconsider.

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