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Spotify's new privacy policy gets all up in your business

Caitlin McGarry | Aug. 21, 2015
Sensor data, photos, contacts: Spotify wants it all.

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Spotify wants to cozy up to you and find out more about what you do, where you go, who your contacts are. Does that make you uncomfortable?

The streaming music service updated its privacy policy for users in the U.K. on Thursday with some major changes, first noticed by Forbes. Now Spotify is requesting access to other parts of your phone, like your contacts, your photos, your “media files” (though it doesn’t specify which ones), and your phone’s sensors. Here are the relevant parts:

3.3 Information Stored on Your Mobile Device

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.

3.4 Location and sensor information

Depending on the type of device that you use to interact with the Service and your settings, we may also collect information about your location based on, for example, your phone’s GPS location or other forms of locating mobile devices (e.g., Bluetooth). We may also collect sensor data (e.g., data about the speed of your movements, such as whether you are running, walking, or in transit).

There are a few reasons why Spotify might want deeper access to your device, and it’s not just advertising-related. The location and sensor data access could signify plans to develop more features similar to Running, which takes your phone’s motion into account to determine your pace so it can match songs with the same beats per minute. It’s not so clear why Spotify would need access to your contacts and photos, but a company spokesperson told Forbes that the data “helps us to tailor improved experiences to our users, and build new and personalized products for the future.”

Spotify also pointed to its new (and beloved) Discover Weekly personalized playlist as an example of the kinds of features it plans to add down the line.

The impact on you: It’s important to note that these changes haven’t gone into effect in the U.S., where Spotify’s privacy policy hasn’t changed since April 2014. It’s unclear if Spotify will soon overhaul its privacy policy for American listeners as well, but as the company ramps up efforts to stay competitive with Apple Music, you can expect more of those personalized features. And Spotify will definitely need to know more about you to pull that off.


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