Spotify's CEO apologizes for not explaining its new privacy policy as subscribers threaten to quit

Spotify’s founder and CEO, Daniel Ek, has apologised in a blog post for not explaining the reasoning behind a new privacy policy that has drawn criticism from users.

Under the new policy, Spotify is seeking permission to access your sensors, photos, contacts, and GPS, among other things.

To be clear, Ek did not apologise for the policy itself — which he seems to stand by — but for not being more diligent in telling users why those changes came about, and what they mean.

In the blog post, titled “SORRY.,” Ek goes into detail about five points: photos, location, voice, contacts, and sharing.

Here is the post, reprinted below:

We are in the middle of rolling out new terms and conditions and privacy policy and they have caused a lot of confusion about what kind of information we access and what we do with it. We apologise for that. We should have done a better job in communicating what these policies mean and how any information you choose to share will — and will not — be used.

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

So let me try and clear things up.

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 customise your Spotify experience.

Photos: We will never access your photos without explicit permission and we will never scan or import your photo library or camera roll. If you give us permission to access photos, we will only use or access images that you specifically choose to share. Those photos would only be used in ways you choose and control — to create personalised cover art for a playlist or to change your profile image, for example.

Location: We will never gather or use the location of your mobile device without your explicit permission. We would use it to help personalise recommendations or to keep you up to date about music trending in your area. And if you choose to share location information but later change your mind, you will always have the ability to stop sharing.

Voice: 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.

Contacts: We will never scan or import your contacts without your permission. Spotify is a social platform and many people like to share playlists and music they discover with their friends. In the future, we may want to give you the ability to find your friends on Spotify by searching for Spotify users in your contacts if you choose to do that.

Sharing: The Privacy Policy also mentions advertisers, rights holders and mobile networks. This is not new. With regard to mobile networks, some Spotify subscribers sign up through their mobile provider, which means some information is shared with them by necessity. We also share some data with our partners who help us with marketing and advertising efforts, but this information is de-identified — your personal information is not shared with them.

Again, we have heard your concerns loud and clear. We are also going to update the new Privacy Policy in the coming weeks to better reflect what we have explained above. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know by emailing us at [email protected] We’re listening to you and we take your concerns very seriously.

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