Spotify demands access to your contacts, photos and location

Update, 16:00 BST: Spotify has said “sorry” for causing “confusion” with its new privacy policy.

“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,” wrote Spotify CEO Daniel Ek in a blog post.

“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.”

Ek goes on to explain how data regarding photos, location, voice, contacts and sharing will be accessed by Spotify, adding that the company will now tweak its privacy policy to “better reflect” users’ concerns. Read the full post.

Spotify is getting invasive with its updated privacy policy.

The streaming platform wants to know a lot more about its users, and is asking permission to access contacts, photos and other files from your phone.

It also wants to track your location, based on your phone’s GPS or through Bluetooth, and sensor data about the speed of your movements, like whether you are running, walking or on the bus.

Another update in the new privacy policy gives Spotify more information about your searches, for example the time and location where the search was made.

The company also wants to get more information about you from its “service providers and partners”, which it says will be used to “display ads that are more likely to be relevant to you.” And we all love a more relevant ad, right?

It works both ways, though – Spotify will also be sharing information about you with advertising partners in order to bring you those tailored ads. The good news is that the information will be anonymised so that you cannot be connected with the data in future.

If you don’t like it, there’s not a lot you can do about it. However, Spotify says it “will always ask for individual permission or clearly inform you of the ability to opt out from sharing location, photos, voice and contacts.”

A Spotify representative told FACT that these settings will be turned off by default, but turning on your location, say, would give you music recommendations tailored to that data – for example in its new Running app.

The move to harvest more valuable data from its users is likely a response to Spotify’s delicate market position, with the Swedish company looking to boost revenue in the face of serious competition from Apple Music. But it’s also likely to annoy some users who already feel harvested enough, thanks very much.

A sceptical report on Forbes drew a response from Spotify, stating on its blog: “The data accessed simply helps us to tailor improved experiences to our users, and build new and personalised products for the future. Recent new features include Spotify Running, which matches the BPM of your music to the pace of your run, or the new Discover Weekly feature, which curates a weekly playlist based on your tastes.

“Throughout, the privacy and security of our customers’ data is – and will remain – Spotify’s highest priority.”

Recent reports suggest that Spotify’s freemium tier could be on the way out, with users being enticed to subscribe with more premium-only content. In the meantime, a survey suggests that half the people who signed up to Apple Music subscribers have stopped listening.