Spotify boss ‘sorry’ for data collection confusion

Spotify boss 'sorry' for data collection confusion
Spotify users have been hitting out at the Swedish firm over its new privacy policies. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
The Swedish founder of online music streamer Spotify was forced to apologize on Friday after angry users accused it of abusive personal data collection by asking for access to their contacts and photos.

Earlier this week, the firm had described the changes on its website as an update of its general user terms and conditions and its privacy policy, intended “to tailor improved experiences to our users, and build new and personalized products for the future”.

But some users of the streaming service were not happy about the development.

Hundreds of customers took to Twitter to voice their complaints, many of them linking to articles on specialized sites such as Wired that were critical of the move.

On Friday, one of the Swedish creators of the hugely popular online game Minecraft, Markus Persson, told his 2.4 million followers that he had cancelled his Spotify subscription.

“As a consumer, I've always loved your service. You're the reason I stopped pirating music. Please consider not being evil,” he wrote.

Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek responded directly to him: “Have you read our blog? We explicitly will ask when using camera or GPS.”

@notch have you read our blog? We explicitly will ask when using camera or GPS. However both changing playlist image and running feature

— Daniel Ek (@eldsjal) August 21, 2015

Ek also explained that having access to photos would help users “if you want to personalize a playlist by having a custom image or a new profile pic”.

The outcry prompted Spotify to publish an online apology as well as a clarification of its new terms and conditions, insisting that customers who did not want to share their information would not be forced to.

“We should have done a better job in communicating what [the new policies] mean and how any information you choose to share will – and will not – be used,” wrote Ek in a blog post.

“We understand people’s concerns about their personal information and are 100 percent committed to protecting our users’ privacy and ensuring that you have control over the information you share.”

The Swedish group – which claims to have more than 75 million users in 58 countries, including more than 20 million who use its premium paying site – is facing stiff competition from US rival Apple.

Apple Music was launched on June 30th in more than 100 countries, after the iconic firm realized that music fans would in the future be more likely to choose streaming over downloads.