Spotify Rewrites Privacy Policy Following Knee-Jerk Backlash From Upset Users

Spotify ruffled more than a few feathers when it added verbiage to its privacy policy in August that, at a cursory glance, seemed potentially nefarious. That wasn't Spotify's intent, but to quell the Internet community at large, Spotify has gone back and updated its privacy policy once again, this time with some "plain language" and clarifications to some controversial entries.

Using legal speak is part of what got Spotify in trouble with its users in the first place. As originally written, Spotify seemed to be overstepping its bounds by trying to collect data from users like their contacts, photos, and media files without explaining exactly why it wanted that information or what it planned to do with it.


The newly revised privacy policy begins with by explaining there are two categories of information Spotify collects. One is information that Spotify needs in order for users to actually use the service, and the second is optionally shared information to provide additional features. Here's a look at the second category.

  • Your specific location: We will never gather or use your specific device location without first getting your explicit permission. This information enables us to create collaborative listening experiences (only with others who have also given permission), and to provide even better recommendations about locally popular music, live venues, and concerts.
  • Your photos: We will only access images that you specifically choose, and we will never scan or import your photo library or camera roll. This allows you to choose individual pictures to change your profile picture or create cover art for a playlist. You can stop sharing photos and revoke access at any time.
  • Your contacts: We will never scan or import your contacts unless you ask us to. If you choose to do so, we will only use your contact information to help you find friends or contacts who use Spotify.
  • Your microphone: We will never access or use your microphone unless you give us explicit permission. This could enable you to control Spotify with your voice, and you will always have the ability to disable access to the microphone.

Spotify's only real mistake in this mess was not anticipating the confusion. When an app or service starts talking about tapping into contacts and photos, it raises eyebrows, and that's exactly what happened here. However, Spotify isn't looking to grab your pictures and spread them around the Internet, nor is it attempting to spam your friends and family, or worse yet, sell their contact information to third parties.

It's also important to note that by using Spotify and accepting its terms, you're not agreeing to any of the above.

"Acceptance of our Privacy Policy does not mean you have granted us permission to access or use information in the second category; we’re just explaining to you that one day we might ask you for that permission," Spotify says.

This mess aside, Spotify is one of the better streaming services out there, though competition is heating up. Spotify is free to use with ads, or $9.99 per month for ad-free listening (students can subscribe for $4.99 per month).