Aug 25, 2015

Spotify's Proposed Amendments to Privacy Policy Attacked

It is the common held belief that very few customers read the terms and conditions of online digital media services before signing up to the service, and this belief spawned the old joke that the biggest lie on the internet is when a customer checks the "yes" box to say that they have "Read and agree to all the terms and conditions".

Unfortunately for Spotify Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Ek, the proposed changes to Spotify's terms and conditions were not only read, they were also publicised across social media platforms, much to the furore of current and prospective customers.

Amongst the various proposals, one which attracted particular attention was that relating to information stored on mobile devices.  This term read as follows:

3.3 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.

This raised strong commentary and criticism from a variety of sources.  Wired Magazine wrote: "Like a jealous ex, Spotify wants to see (and collect) your photos and see who you're talking to."

Similarly, the creator of the game Minecraft, Markus Persson, tweeted: "Hello. As a consumer, I've always loved your service. You're the reason I stopped pirating music. Please consider not being evil." The subsequent exchange of messages between Markus Persson and Daniel Ek, as shown in the Guardian on 21 August 2015 was nothing if not entertaining, and ultimately led to Markus Persson cancelling his Spotify account.

Such public criticism of the proposed changes put Spotify on the defensive and necessitated an "apology" blog from Daniel Ek on 21 August 2015.  This note apologised for the manner in which the proposals were communicated, and Daniel insisted that as a company, Spotify should have done a better job of communicating the meaning of the policies and to what extent information would be used.

As further explanation of the proposed changes, Daniel Ek's blog went on to clarify that access of photos, location, voice and contacts would not occur without explicit permission from the user, and if permission for use was given, it would be with a view to enhancing the quality of the user experience currently, and in future developments.

Daniel Ek's message of reassurance concludes with the words: "…we have heard your concerns loud and clear… We're listening to you and we take your concerns very seriously."

Spotify current has approximately 75 million users, of which, 20 million are subscribers.  The importance of maintaining customer confidence is vital to Spotify's business model, and goes some way to explain the reason why the CEO of the company felt it worthwhile to address this matter personally

in: Companies, Digital/Tech, News

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