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Spotify users are freaking out about its new privacy policy – here’s what you need to know

Published Aug 21st, 2015 11:05AM EDT
Spotify Privacy Policy Spying Fix

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Spotify just updated its terms of service with language that further details the kind of data collection it practices, and why it does it. While some of the text additions and changes and might not actually have an adverse impact on users, the fact still remains that Spotify wants to collect even more data about you, in line with what other companies are also doing. Unlike others, though, Spotify doesn’t seem ready to let you do anything about it.

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“If you don’t agree with the terms of this Privacy Policy, then please don’t use the Service,” Spotify says in its terms of service, as Wired reports.

The music streaming company does use language that indicates you’ll have a say into what data it can collect from you, your friends, your likes and your movements, but it’s not exactly clear when and how you’ll be able to do it.

“The privacy and security of our customers’ data is – and will remain – Spotify’s highest priority,” Spotify writes on its blog. “We will always ask for individual permission or clearly inform you of the ability to opt out from sharing location, photos, voice and contacts.”

The company says that, with your permission, it’ll collect data from your mobile device including contacts, photos or media files. It’ll also ask you to seek consent from your contacts so that Spotify can collect their data from your phone.

Spotify also wants access to GPS, to know where you’re going and how fast you are, which are details apparently needed for its Spotify Running feature.

Finally, if you’re using Spotify through Facebook, then it’ll want to receive information about your activity in there, including Likes and other publicly available information including “our name, profile picture, country, hometown, email address, date of birth, gender, friends’ names and profile pictures, and networks”. By agreeing to the terms of service, you also tell Spotify that you’re absolutely fine with it collecting authentication information for Facebook and other sites.

All this data may be used by Spotify to offer you better-tailored products, and that might be okay for most people. However, it’ll likely also be used so that the service can provide you better ads, especially if you’re not a premium user.

In case you do pay a Spotify subscription and choose not to agree to these updated terms that are rolling out in several markets, you’ll have 30 days to change your mind, The Register reports. But if you plan to ditch Spotify, you’ll also have to make sure you cancel the subscription, otherwise you’ll no longer be able to use the service after 30 days following your refusal to accept the new privacy policy, but you’ll still be charged for it.

If you don’t want to give Spotify access to your data but wish to use the service, you should accept the new terms of service, and then deny access every time a Spotify prompt will hit your screen. Furthermore, you can unlink your Facebook and Spotify accounts to prevent Facebook data collection.

Following the wave of criticism received online, Spotify published a “Sorry” post on its blog to explain that it won’t automatically gather data off your phones, and that you’ll be in complete control over what happens.

“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,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said. “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.”

In his apology post, Ek further detailed what kind of  photos, location, voice and contacts data Spotify will collect if allowed, and how you’ll be able to manage what you share with the company.

Read Spotify’s full explanation here.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.