Spotify tries to clarify its new terms without scaring away customers

Alan Buckingham
Aug 23, 2015
Music and Video

Music streaming service Spotify recently announced it would be changing its terms of service and stressed it would be better. However, what followed apparently scared users and now the company is trying to explain what it means -- damage control mode.

In a blog post simply titled "Sorry", CEO David Ek attempts to allay fears. Spotify apparently was getting a lot of negative feedback due to the confusion over what various parts of these conditions mean.

"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 customize your Spotify experience", Ek states.

He then proceeds through various things. For instance he promises that Spotify will only access photos the user has given permission for. And that these images can be picked by the customer, not just a big upload of the whole camera roll.

Location, he explains, also requires user permission and will only be used to alert the customer to trending music in their area. You can also elect to change your mind on sharing later if you opted in at all.

When it comes to voice, Ek points out "We will never access your microphone without your permission. Many people like to use Spotify in a hands-free way, and we may build voice controls into future versions of the product that will allow you to skip tracks, or pause, or otherwise navigate the app. You will always have the ability to disable voice controls".

As for contacts, it also requires user permission and will be used for sharing playlists with friends who are also on the service.

Ek attempts to make things sound much less terrifying to users. It remains to be seen if he succeeds or not. The sad fact is that most people don't read these things, they just click "OK". Apparently, in this case, enough read it to warrant an explanation.

Spotify tries to clarify its new terms without scaring away customers
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Spotify tries to clarify its new terms without scaring away customers
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek explains what recent privacy policy changes mean for customers.

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  1. Kenny said on August 25, 2015 at 2:53 am

    I could be wrong but wasn’t there some change about how credit cards will be shared? I almost switched from Google Play Music to Spotify but… after this I am going to keep my $8 a month Google Play All Access.

  2. Jay said on August 24, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    The best option continues to be to build and maintain your own digital music collection.

  3. yronnen said on August 24, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    What’s the other option? Using Apple music that already does whatever Spotify wants to do, but without asking permission?

  4. Uhtred said on August 24, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I’m not a fan of spotify, but I think they’d probably do better having the music player software as a restricted product, and things like voice control features or camera/photo access as additional plugin type apps you need to install as extras. If users want the features they just get the app

  5. Chains The Bounty Hunter said on August 24, 2015 at 6:19 am

    The idea that they’d even want access to this sort of thing is troubling to me.

    That said, after this news broke I was reminded to finally uninstall Spotify. Beyond not using it for anything, playing the waiting game for it to support file formats that would allow me full access to the 10k+ files in my media library was getting tiresome and it just wasn’t worth having it sit around any longer.

  6. T. Janda said on August 24, 2015 at 12:52 am

    I have removed and deleted my account. Not sure why a music streaming service needs access to my pictures and contacts. Done GoodBye..

  7. Kulm said on August 23, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Back in “96/97” RealAudio was caught spying on users
    via their RealPlayer… The negative reaction was
    so great and sustained that Real never recovered.

    Grandpa, what was Spotify? Well, Jimmy, it was a …

  8. Tom Hawack said on August 23, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    I always considered Spotify as a circus. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Clown, CEO David Ek.

  9. James T. said on August 23, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Who is Alan Buckingham?
    Is Ghacks doing Guest Authors/Articles

    1. RN said on August 23, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      I’ve seen his name on the masthead since I learned of ghacks a couple of years ago.

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