Skip Tags

Popular Tags

Decorative icon

The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection The Resource Center | article

What You Need To Know About Spotify’s Privacy Policy

Here, we examine Spotify's privacy policy and how it affects you as a user.

We live in the age of streaming, where extensive collections of film and music exist right at our fingertips. In this series, we’re discussing the privacy policies of the services that allow us to access these seemingly limitless sources of entertainment. Next up is Spotify, the music streaming company that has taken the industry by storm.

The 2015 privacy policy update

In August 2015, Spotify made a controversial update to its privacy policy, saying the service would now ask for permission to collect more information about its users, including contacts, photos and media files. The update also included a provision on user locations, requesting access to device GPS, Bluetooth, sensor data or other locating tools.

Wired magazine criticized the policy for acting “like a jealous ex” or a friend feeling left out by wanting access to this information with vague intentions. The magazine also criticized the update for giving users virtually little wiggle room in how this policy would affect them.

“If you don’t agree with the terms of this Privacy Policy, then please don’t use the service,” the update read.

It raised concerns about what data collection means, and why free services like Spotify seem to need so much of it to operate. To assuage these concerns, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek released a statement apologizing for the policy update.

“Let me be crystal clear here: If you don’t want to share this kind of information, you don’t have to,” Ek wrote in the statement. “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 this statement, Ek also demystified some of the intentions behind the new permission requests. Access to photos, he wrote, is so users can add personalized cover art to a playlist or to change the image on their profiles. The location tracking access is intended for Spotify Running, a recent feature that can match music to a user’s running pace.

Ek also reassured users that their personal information is never shared with third parties, like mobile networks or marketing and advertising partners.

How Spotify’s privacy policy currently stands

Since that controversy, Spotify has modified its privacy policy to better address public concerns and explain its intentions with data collection. Spotify divides its collected information into two categories: information that it needs and information that users can elect to share to enable certain additional features.

In the first category, Spotify requires a user’s name, date of birth, address and other details at sign-up. The service also determines your generic location (country and city) via your IP address to follow location-specific music licensing rules and deliver information about nearby concerts.

Understandably, Spotify also needs to see the music you listen to and other ways you interact with it, as this helps the service make recommendations. However, it’s up to the user how that information is shared with the public.

In the second category, users can opt to share details such as their specific location, photos, contacts and microphone access, as first outlined in the August 2015 update. Spotify now assures its users that it will be clear with how and when it will use and share any information provided to the service. In the rest of the policy, it describes these amendments in greater length.

Though they are typically lengthy documents, it’s important to understand the privacy policies of the services you use and what kind of information they’re collecting about you. While it’s relatively harmless, it’s a good practice to follow. Check out our previous article about Facebook’s privacy policy and look for the next article in our Privacy Policy Series, what you need to know about Apple’s privacy policy.