Spotify updates privacy policy to clarify how it collects your data

September 4, 2015, 1:49 PM UTC
Spotify Holds Press Event In New York
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Spotify's founder and CEO Daniel Elk speaks at a Spotify event on December 6, 2012 in New York City. Elk, who started the Swedish music streaming business in 2006, introduced a variety of new additions to the popular music sight. Elk also announced that Spotify now has 5 million paid subscribers, 20 million active users and has paid out a half billion dollars to artist's record labels. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photograph by Spencer Platt — Getty Images

After Spotify worked the Internet into a tizzy over seemingly invasive changes to its privacy policy last month, the company has issued another update that better explains why it wants so much more of your data.

The new version isn’t much different from its predecessor. While the language is simpler, clearer, and less alarming, the revision doesn’t change what data the music streaming service will collect. Instead, it clarifies how it will collect that data.

Basically, there are two sets of data the company is interested in. The first set, as the new policy clarifies, includes data the company “must have” in order to deliver its service: usernames and passwords, subscription type (free versus paid), IP addresses, and music preferences. The second set includes information Spotify “can use…if you choose to share,” which allows for additional personalized features.

Read more on data science at Spotify.

That second category is where the company initially met with backlash. In August, people panicked when the company announced that it would begin requesting access to users’ photos, contact lists, microphones, location, and Facebook data. Spotify said that it would do so only “with your permission,” and that it needed the access in order to enable the new and improved features, such as friend-finding, profile picture-swapping, voice activation, and local recommendations.

That explanation didn’t satisfy everyone, however. Many people, such as billionaire video-game creator Markus Persson, felt the company had overstepped the line. And they said so.

Daniel Ek, Spotify co-founder and CEO, personally apologized for the gaffe. “SORRY,” he posted on Twitter. “Privacy super impt. We should have done better explaining new terms.”

He vowed on the corporate blog to deliver a new privacy agreement “in the coming days and weeks.” This latest version is that update.

As mentioned, aside from a far more explicit (and lengthy) introduction, there’s not much new here. Considering how much flak the company took for the original update, it is clear that something about the former legalese-filled policy was amiss. The plainer language is a welcome change.

“We never receive any of the following information unless you expressly choose to share it with us,” the new policy states, regarding the second category of data the company collects. “It’s as simple as that.”

Anyone who recently quit the service over privacy concerns should have a look at the revised policy. (Those who accepted the last update are already automatically opted in.) The new version is at least more understandable.

But if Spotify’s reassurances are still not enough, then there is certainly no dearth of music streaming alternatives on the market right now: Apple Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, Tidal, Rdio. No doubt the others would love to have you, too.

For more on Spotify, watch this video below.

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